Final Disconnect Notice
Despite countless local gigs over the past five years, Fahri remains one of Milwaukee’s great musical mysteries. Fronted by husband-and-wife duo Miles Murray and Sarah Long, the band is neither self-consciously flashy nor endearingly introverted, and its live shows tend to feel more like private rehearsals than proper performances. 2010’s Perfect Present offered an intriguing glimpse into the group’s dissonant-yet-melodic approach to songwriting, but the album still kept listeners at arm’s length. On the new Final Disconnect Notice, the band finally bares its teeth and makes a loud, angry, and definitive statement. There’s still plenty of mystery to be found, but there are just enough flashes of raw emotion and vulnerability to capture the attention of a wider audience.
Composed of 10 songs that have been kicking around Fahri’s live shows for more than a year, Disconnect finds the group somewhere between Sonic Youth at its most tuneful, and ’90s post-punk at its most yearning. (The album’s title is a none-too-subtle nod to the band’s recent financial woes.) Opener “Lazy Fruit” practically wills Fahri into existence, with Murray intoning, “Live / live from the studio / They had us on the radio” under a bed of jagged guitars and warehouse-sized drums. “Caleb’s Fauna” puts Long’s perfectly fuzzed-out vocals front and center, while the soaring “Ghost Song” serves as a pissed off “I-told-you-so” to a wayward friend (“New York / it ate you alive.”) Album standout “The Island Cannibal King” takes a resigned, not-quite-in-tune vocal from Murray and manages to find a new, impossibly perfect hook at every turn. Those hooks are harder to come by in the album’s second half (though the anthemic, GBV-like “Barflys” is another clear highlight), but Murray and Long’s ability to wedge in an unexpected bit of melody amidst the din remains impressive throughout.
’90s revivalism may be all the rage, but little of what Fahri does seems intentionally fashionable. Instead, the band serves as a perfect antithesis to the rote and often indulgent shoegaze sound hawked by so many other bands. Direct yet enigmatic, noisy yet always tuneful, Final Disconnect Notice is the sound of a band slashing its own path through the noise, only to find a familiar tune on the other side.
Fahri celebrates the vinyl release of Final Disconnect Notice June 9 at the Riverwest Public House.