What happens when a music theory and classical composition professor taps three of his most talented former students to help realize his dream of an original rock band? Well we already know the answer having reviewed the band’s spectacular two-song single, entitled “So Simple & Another Song,” during October. The answer of course, is Lovers of Fiction, a Portland, Maine based quartet which formed in 2012, and who will release their first full-length album, “Long Overdue”, on December 18, 2015. Lovers of Fiction is Sam Chandler, who handles bass and keyboards, Mark Dennis who plays guitar, bass and drums, Jimmy Dority, who takes care of guitar, bass, accordion and ukulele in the band, and of course professor Dan Sonenberg, who plays drums, keyboards, guitar and does the vocals.
The indie rock Gods must have been smiling down on me during October. From the very first listen to “Another Song” I was hooked. I knew from that moment that this band was going to go big. Of course I don’t know exactly when this is going to happen, but I’m damn sure it will. “Long Overdue” which contains both “So Simple” and “Another Song,” is a stellar debut album. It is the product of hard work and vast musical talent. The songs hold common threads that make for a strong sense of album unity but the fact of the matter is that each one is a unique gem of enjoyment. There is an undeniable appeal here, even though the quality is beyond the “mass consumption” label. From the well written lyrics and the complex percussive beats to the subtle guitar and keyboard work as well as the vocals and the horn arrangements that are at once polished and natural, “Long Overdue” is a debut album that sounds anything but “debut.”
If the throbbing, pulsating beat of “So Simple” and “Superhero Chin” doesn’t get you pumped there is something wrong with you. You will find new things to love with every listen; I sure know that I have. Even tracks you aren’t keen on at first could very well nestle themselves in the folds of your brain and take root. This happened to me with “Throwaway”, while “Everybody Wants to be an ENFP” brought me to think of a sublime blend between the songwriting skills of The Beatles and the vocal performance of Meatloaf with the experimental deviations of King Crimson. “Lost Weekend” has all vintage Bowie from the seventies wrapped up inside its core. And this happens on each and every song as Lovers of Fiction seem to unleash a particular blend of sound that harkens to a more distinguished era of rock music.
This is one of those albums that is easier to listen to than it is to explain. I’m sitting at my computer listening to the song, “The Bear Part 2” and I find myself nodding my head and tapping my foot. The fact that I do that to all their songs is immaterial; though “Another Song,” is just downright cool and probably the band’s best song to date. Lovers of Fiction have such a full and melodic sound that is simply impossible not to turn up and feel their music. They really aren’t like anything out there. They are pretty unpredictable tempo-wise, and they really know how to mix up their sounds. Some are more groovy songs and some are quite hard hitting. All while moving through a myriad of styles, tones and timbres.
“Big Boy Walking” is a swashbuckling full-house arrangement, without a single space to even strike a triangle, while “Old Man in a Rainstorm” is a more reflective lament dominated by Dan Sonenberg’s emotional and sometimes excitable vocals. You never know where Sonenberg is going to go vocally in a song, but you can be sure that it will be unique and powerfully beautiful. Nowadays it seems like music sounds too refined, there’s just not enough emotion which is what makes good music great. Most of the music you hear on the radio sounds like the same song over and over. That might be good enough for the casual listener, but not for me. I crave substance with my music and with Lovers of Fiction you get it!