Click here to return to the Shaking Through Home Page


  Shaking WWW


 Archive Home | Movies | Music | Books | Comics | Editorial


Music Archives: Most Recent | Highest Rated | Alphabetical | Highest Rated 2006

Fire Sale


Amusement Parks on Fire: Amusement Parks on Fire

Filter U.S., 2005

Rating: 3.3


Posted: July 8, 2005

By Peter Landwehr

Michael Feerick is a young Englishman who, if we can be assume anything by his debut album, draws inspiration from watching breakers crash on the beach and spends his free time listening to My Bloody Valentine. The talented twenty-year old plays every instrument on Amusement Parks On Fire, a feat that brings to mind the Smashing Pumpkins. It's not an unwarranted comparison; Feerick mines the early 1990s for inspiration, and presents the same emotional honesty that made Billy Corgan famous, albeit with less finesse.

The album revisits the old battle of determining if a release is "consistent" or "samey" -- the only thing all parties will agree on is Feerick's obsession with oceanic washes of sound.

It's undeniable that Amusement Parks On Fire works best when taken in one listen. Feerick has mastered the trick of soft-loud dynamics, as well as the multiple-layers-of-instruments-joining-together-during-a-slow-crescendo effect, and this combination of rise and fall induces the greatest catharsis when the songs are taken as a whole; Feerick makes a point of working these dynamic shifts across multiple tracks.

At the same time, should Feerick be lauded for knowing only one trick? While paying homage to My Bloody Valentine is a noble concept, that band had quite a few cards up its multilayered sleeve, and most post-punk groups out there have mined the slow crescendo, from Broken Social Scene to Godspeed You! Black Emperor As strong as the slow, step-like builds of "Asphalt" and "Wiper" are, because of the limited palette it's impossible not to feel like you're hearing the same EP repeated several times over one 40-minute spin.

Nonetheless, there is an undeniable feeling of release as Feerick's echoing voice repeatedly cries out "Bring the prison back!" as "Wiper" climaxes and melts from distortion into broken piano notes, and there's a joyous teenage sadness in the guitar riffs and fast drums of "Venosa", the album's poppiest track.

"Eighty Eight" attempts to repackage the grunge revolution 10 years too late, coupling familiar instrumentation with lyrics about a "godawful charade" and a demand to "Let me see the blood." Defenders of the band will look upon lines like "All you've ever known is what they've sold you" and "Another year of abuse / It's not for us to say / But why not?" as deeply honest, but this kind teenage poetry has long since been played out.

The "I Love the 90s" feel that surrounds APOF would be unendurable if not for the fact that Feerick accomplishes his modest goal, which is that when you crank the volume to 11 and put your headphones on, the sheer wall of noise collapses onto you, pulls you to your feet and sends you staggering away, renewed. The production, while hardly the deftest interweaving of the layers of noise, builds up a serviceable instrumental haze that makes it possible to write off the worst lyrical blunders. And once Feerick learns a few tricks besides crescendos, decrescendos and teenage vocals, he might become a noise-rock force to reckon with. As it is, he's just a talented guy with a decent album that could be half as long.

Site design copyright 2001-2011 Shaking All original artwork, photography and text used on this site is the sole copyright of the respective creator(s)/author(s). Reprinting, reposting, or citing any of the original content appearing on this site without the written consent of Shaking is strictly forbidden.



 Ratings Key:
 5.0: A classic
 4.0-4.9: Stellar work
 3.0-3.9: Worthwhile effort
 2.0-2.9: Nothing special
 1.1-1.9: Pretty bad
 0.0-1.0: Total disaster

Archived Reviews

Most Recent

Highest Rated



Best Of Lists: All

Rox Populi: (Latest) (Archives)

Halftime Reports