My Favuorite Faded Fantasy, Damien Rice’s third album, is a refreshing, introspective twist on Rice’s usual, breathy laments on love and heartbreak. His first album since his move to Iceland, My Favourite Faded Fantasy shows remarkable introspection and personal growth, although Rice doesn’t entirely break away from his trademark pitfall of overwrought romanticism.
Some of the tracks on the album, like “The Box” and “It Takes A Lot To Know A Man,” echo Rice’s bitter passion on previous works. This time around, he handles his rage with a more clever hand; instead of the explosive, frenetic fury of “Volcano”, he seethes and storms quietly, which proves to be much more effective.“It Takes A Lot To Know A Man” is tense and well paced; although the gradual build of the violins and drums stretch out for over nine minutes, each moment is more layered and rich than the last. The most powerful moment is the break in the middle, where the silence speaks as loudly as the instruments that follow it.
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The greatest evidence of Rice’s growth is his shift towards loose and unstructured songwriting. When he abandons the typical ballad format, Rice shows remarkable creativity and produces atmospheric, deconstructed soundscapes that say more than the words he sings. Rice’s lyricism, on the other hand, is more closely related to his folksy singer-songwriter roots. The painfully earnest poetry of ‘O’ and ‘9’ is still present, although slightly less nauseating. But it’s evident that Rice’s real growth is in his musical craftsmanship, not the words he sings. There are no shocking insights on human nature or love here; Rice instead seems more self-aware and straightforward, and as a result the listener isn’t forced to muddle through as many obtuse metaphors.
“Color Me In” combines Rice’s usual sweetness and gentle, wavering voice with a more mature musical approach, making for one of the most universally appealing songs on the album. Another strong ballad is “I Don’t Want To Change You,” which keeps the emotional rawness Rice is known for while keeping his honesty from seeming trite.
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My Favourite Faded Fantasy isn’t a radical departure from anything, but it is a more mature, thoroughly-developed version of what Rice is known for. His flaws and strengths are all still present, but with a sense of introspection that makes for a stronger, more balanced album.
Voice’s Choices: “It Takes A Lot To Know A Man,” “Color Me In”
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