There was a time and place when I liked the band Fake Problems because they sounded like some other band out there that I enjoyed that will remain unmentioned. The similarities between them and this certain Gainsville, Fla. act I speak of were clear but never to be considered a rip off, at least to my ears. I soon learned of their hard working antics, their harsh stories while touring and most of all their passion for what they love to do.
I recall the first Fake Problems release as being an enjoyable punk/folk sing-a-long jam while the follow-up showed a clear change in their style. Now dropping Real Ghosts Caught On Tape,their third full length release, Fake Problems really have evolved from a one time punk rock sounding band into a fine-sounding rock n roll outfit that impresses me on a few different levels.
Still kicking it with Side One Dummy Records, the Naples, Fla. foursome is back with all new material bordering on more of an indie-rock feel without letting go of their roots. There is this major fun change though that is heard throughout making me think that Fake Problems has pointed their style in a different direction almost hinting back to the 60’s. Real Ghosts contains 11 toe tapping songs that will easily compliment any good day you are having.
The opening “ADT” won me over immediately. I loved the drum playing, the white-collar rock n roll strums and of course the, dare I say, heartfelt lyrics. It was easily the catchiest song on the track. Following was “5678”, a more dance-causing, Electric Six sounding, jam worthy of multiple listens. Again, another catchy track especially with the “everybody’s clapping along” chorus.
It’s not all about the fun though on the album, just listen to the lyrics on “Songs For Teenagers”, a beautifully done tune but with a saddened message about letdowns, suicide contemplation and drug use. “Soulless” on the other hand was fun-major, if that makes sense, with tons of energy slapped into the 60’s-ish, girl doo-whopping track Phil Spector would even enjoy (I have the feeling I am not the only one who has said that but oh well…).
Real Ghosts is well written from start to finish and if anything, the band has proved on how they have matured as musicians. With hints towards So.Cal. indie-rock and sandy beach jams they have not forgeotten where they came from. Real Ghosts is a whole more fun and a lot more mainstream friendly than their priors, but don’t be too quick to throw that “sellout” label at them.
In a sense sellouts happen because it there is a certain element that grabs attention – it happens all the time if you think about it (i.e. Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly, 1/2 the bands on the Warped Tour). Sure, sometimes bands throw in a huge twist to earn more green in their wallets but this is not the case with Fake Problems. They are a fun and hardworking act that dropped a great, fun album aimed at anyone out there who is looking for a upbeat and catchy album to listen to.