The Fixx returns as resonant as ever with new disc and tour kicking off at the Coach House
Set for release next week by Kirtland Records, the disc is the Fixx' first studio album since 2003's Want That Life. The British band launches a U.S. tour in support of it with a headlining concert Wednesday, July 18, 2012, at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, bringing the group back to O.C. after a memorable performance at Jack's 5th Show at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in September 2010.
Beautiful Friction is the outfit's 10th assortment of new material overall and arrives 30 years after the release of their official debut, 1982's Shuttered Room, which established the Fixx stateside with the hits “Stand or Fall” and “Red Skies.”
Anyone who listens to those staples of the New Wave era – or any of their other singles from back in the day, like “Saved by Zero,” “Are We Ourselves,” “One Thing Leads to Another” and “Deeper and Deeper” – knows that the members of the Fixx have worn their politics on their collective sleeve from the start. Indeed, the band's “How Much Is Enough?” (which peaked at No. 35 on Billboard's Hot 100 back in late 1991) could well be a fight song for the Occupy Wall Street movement decades later.
“The last few years we were doing a lot of live shows and just didn't feel the binge to put new music out," says singer Cy Curnin, "and then all of a sudden, about three or four years ago, things went pear-shaped out there in society, and that's what I feed on (as a songwriter). There was a financial crisis and there were people starting to ask big questions and politicians didn't seem so squeaky-clean.”
What is so remarkable about the Fixx is not only that its original lineup – including guitarist Jamie West-Oram, keyboardist Rupert Greenall, drummer Adam Woods and bassist Dan K. Brown – is impressively still together, but also how relevant the group's songs sound today.
When they performed the 1988 hit “Driven Out” at Verizon in 2010, casual fans might have mistaken that burning track's environmental-minded lyrics for those of a freshly-penned songs: “Driven out by thieves / I watch them pillage the planet / Fueled by a fattening greed / Trees fall to the hatchet.”
Curnin is proud his material has held up, although he wishes more of the problems he's addressed over the years would have been solved by now.
“Each artist or each writer has their own slant on things. Mine is that social backdrop of the mechanics of how we surrender our own dream-time to be part of a system that is managed by people that who aren't as godlike as they should be,” he said by phone from London, where the band was preparing for this coming tour.
“The relevance (of Fixx songs) has stayed there because it's never been sorted out, and it's an ongoing thing whenever you have a credit-based system and you have politicians (serving) on multiple terms. I really believe in one-term elections and flat tax rates and that type of stuff.”
Beautiful Friction features a wealth of songs that showcase the band's lyrical bite along with other well-crafted originals that blend rich textures and melodic elements set around Curnin's distinctive tenor. The driving anthem “Anyone Else,” luxuriant “Second Time Around” and blistering “What God?” are among the highlights from an 11-cut album written and recorded over a span of about three years.