Originally formed back in 2016, Fake Names can best be described as a punk supergroup, and that just might be the problem with this debut record.
Punk pioneers and guitarists Brian Baker (Bad Religion, Minor Threat) and Michael Hampton (The Faith, Embrace), bassist Jonny Temple (Girls Against Boys), and drummer Mark Schulz (Holy Fuck) are the names that have come together for Fake Names, and to top it all off, they managed to recruit Dennis Lyxzén (Refused/INVSN) on vocals. Quite a formidable mixture, right?
A common problem with supergroups are the high expectations that you subconsciously create in your head based on their past achievements when you hear such big names are teaming up for something new. You can’t help but to think that it’ll have to be something outrageous and exciting. Sadly, that’s not always the case.
The band’s debut record is nowhere near a bad album, but it also doesn’t present anything all too new. It’s typical American punk rock through and through. Instrumentally and vocally, it sounds clean and polished, while, lyrically, it’s still aggressive and critical of the current state of the world. Lyrics take a background role in every song though, as it’s just such a smooth construction in all of them. Track by track passes by, and while it’s an enjoyable experience to let this self-titled record run through on a loop, there’s no real peak to it. The intro, ‘All For Sale’ sets the tone and pace and it doesn’t really change much from there on.
The most exciting moments are without a doubt ‘Heavy Feather’ and ‘Lost Cause’, which are also the two tracks that highlight the individual members’ origin bands the most. ‘Heavy Feather’ features Lyxzén‘s strongest vocal performance on the record, with the kind of power that he usually exudes on Refused‘s back catalogue, and eerie guitar riffs that you’ll keep hearing in your head long after its done. ‘Lost Cause’ also picks up the pace, exhilarating it to a punk level, and adds addictive hooks that you’re used to hearing on any worthwhile Bad Religion single.
Noted that if you don’t think about the fact that Fake Names are indeed a supergroup of established musicians and see it as a simple debut record of a newly founded band, it instantly becomes a lot more impressive. Take away those subconscious high expectations and enjoy it for what it is and you’ll have a much better time listening to it. Guaranteed.
Just another angry German girl