It’s not uncommon these days, with the opportunities available to them, for bands to use various platforms to get themselves out there. Often there can be very little in the ways of biographies or information on new bands. Fashion Week do actually have a biography, just someone else’s. Their biography is a spoof of Nirvana’s, this may itself be a statement, or a way to gain attention but if musically it is intended to be an album of spoof it’s one of the most ironic albums of its time. What it does have is many other similarities with the sound of Nirvana; the music itself is raw, full of passion and heavily emotional.
So what of the album? Opening Track ‘Fendi Bender’ is instantly recognisable as a 90’s grunge sound and you are naturally going to think of bands of that period. It begins with a very heavy reliance on the bass with the bass players deep dragging notes carrying the song. The vocals talk of moving on ‘It’s time for closing doors, it’s time to let this go.’ The song quickly gains energy when second singer, growls his way through his opening section. This is a familiar formula which Fashion Week pull off well, the slower bass driven almost spoken word section followed by the high energy growled, hard core singing. I can only presume that throughout this album that two vocalists are at work. Especially in some of the later tracks where the two voices almost work together as duet.Update – I have since seen some videos and been updated by the band themselves and this is the same singer, what a range, Great work Fella! What makes this track really stand out for me though is the passion, of the lyrics, the feeling that this band means it, that they really are torn. It is this raw emotion that really draws you in to this album form the off. What also struck me was the pace of the song. This is punk in the truest sense, the bass and drums are actually slowly paced, allowing the energy of the vocals to carry the song. It is one of the signatures of 70’s punk that the rhythm was picked from reggae of the era and low guitars and angry vocals placed over top and Fashion Week does this well throughout Prêt-à-Porter.
‘Choursace’ begins with a narrated quote ‘Being miserable and treating everyone like dirt is every New Yorkers god given right’. This could certainly apply to a lot of places. Musically we are treated to another 90’s grunge riff. Again building the atmosphere with pace changes and repetition. Hardcore vocals burst over the top of this but the pace of the song never changes. These vocals just add another layer and dimension to what is already going on.
‘Meek is Miznabble’ Has a catchy little riff which is interlaced with almost indistinguishable lyrics, crys and shouts beofre a pace change part way through. The singing also then changes, into a more distinguishable shout. A Great stop/start rhythms helps punctuate the lyrics.
‘Summer Line’ – This is one of the two longer tracks on the album. So the band have more time to play with the structure and build up the atmosphere. A slow, single note riff starts, slowly building up with the intro of the drums. Again, the band help to create an claustrophobic almost painful atmosphere to which the vocals only add to that misery. This is very much wearing your heart on your sleeve. The length of this song, allows them for the first time though to really play around with the dynamics of the song. Every song so far has had that loud/quiet dynamics but on ‘Summer Line’ this is allowed to be drawn out; break down (almost to stop) and then be built back up again.
With ‘Fur Free Friday’ we are treated to a drum solo opening, quickly matched with a funky opening riff. When the vocals come in they are sang and drawn out. It’s a welcome change of style for the album at this point but no less engrossing. As the song picks up pace, the tortured vocals are also included, but with a great progressive chord pattern underneath. The song is broken up by the sung verses in between. Very enjoyable song.
‘Klosstrophia’ at almost 7 minutes is actually a quarter of the album length and introduces an emptiness and echoey space to the album that so far has not been present. It also has the introduction of keys and it is these haunting keys and vocals (‘I am so glad we are not friends’) at the beginning that set the tone for a deeper and more thoughtful interlude to the album.
‘I am so glad I never met you’
It is 2 minutes before the band joins in, the vocals increase in intensity and the piano drops out. This intensity of the vocals is not overdone however and instead the band let the music drive the song before the haunting vocals and anguished cry duet with each other and it works very well.
The final two tracks are ‘Fashion=Collapse’ – which is actually is a collage of sounds, news items and clips and ‘Haute Topic’ – Great ending to the album, upbeat and hopeful.
I think Prêt-à-Porter hit a resonance with me, partly because I grew up during that 90’s grunge period, partly because the music itself reminds me of my last band, where we employed very similar techniques, my bass playing was very similar to what Fashion Week display here but more than anything it is the raw passion on display here, married with great songs which makes this such an enthralling album. It only comes in at 29 minutes all told but it whizzes by and as soon as it finished I find myself quickly playing this again despite partly feeling emotionally drained come the end of each play. We may not know too much about Fashion Week but Prêt-à-Porter is a very strong statement and I can only hope more bands will follow their lead.
Prêt-à-Porter is out now through Solar Flare Records.