steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Francis Albert Machine

"I Love You and I Don't Want You To Die" CD

Chocolate Hearts

Genres: indie pop, lo-fi

Chocolate Hearts
PO Box 554
Philadelphia PA

Oct 4 - 10 2004

Martin Tielli, Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev... Francis Albert Machine can be likened to any or all of these, but no comparison can accurately convey what I Love You and I Don't Want You To Die really sounds like.  Though this is a singles and rarities compilation (1999-2004), it is remarkably cohesive - nearly seamless in flow.  FAM brings us a wide array of pop tunes, comprised mostly of guitar, keyboard, and vocals (with occasional, low-key percussion), and the resulting album is a powerful and personal glimpse into the life of a talented bedroom recorder.

Francis Albert Machine's songs are successful mainly due to their simplicity - this genre's songs are often best when kept from becoming too complex.  Tracks like "Either or the Both of Us" and "Happy/Sadistic" rely on repeated guitar lines and splendidly basic, infectious choruses.  The atmosphere is remarkable due to the coziness of the songs and the ambiance of the keyboards, samples, and effects.  This type of cinematic, bedroom-style pop harkens back to some of Sparklehorse's work, with more of a lo-fi flair, however.  On the other hand, "The Smoking Gun" sounds very much like the two L'altra albums I reviewed years ago.

I Love You and I Don't Want You To Die is exactly the type of gem-filled pop treasure that lo-fi fans are searching for.  There are countless potential mixtape standards here, including a charmingly touching acoustic rendition of "My Funny Valentine."  Hunt this one down.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 26 tracks + 1 hidden, distributed by the label, released 2004]