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Fanmail 2000
Artist: Fanmail
Label: Tooth & Nail Records

Fanmailís debut album, last Juneís The Latest Craze, was a near-perfect summer album, with all the elements that the genre requires: catchy melodies, crunchy, fast guitars, and even a Farfisa organ in some places. Though rather reminiscent of MxPx in some places, it was still better than 95% of the Plankeye material in which Scott Siletta was involved.

Just over a year after the release of The Latest Craze, Siletta has assembled an entirely different band and released a second album, creatively titled Fanmail 2000. On the exterior, the album continues the comic book art theme that the bandís debut initiated, only itís more science fiction-oriented this time around. The music is also rather similar to The Latest Craze, catchy new school pop-punk with Silettaís excellent, distinctive vocals. (Side note: I have to commend Siletta for not doing the whole fake British accent thing) A glance at the lyrics, however, will show that something has happened between the writing of the first album and the writing of Fanmail 2000: most of the lyrics on the new album are darker and more serious than their precursors. Compare, for example, "Rock and Roll Star" from The Latest Craze with "Hero" from Fanmail 2000:

I wanna be in a rock and roll band
I wanna have lots of rock and roll fans
I wanna be the guy up on stage
Jumping around, Iím the latest craze
Itís not that hard
(From "Rock and Roll Star")

I wanna be the hero that you set your eyes upon
Build me up to tear me down
I wanna be the hero that you set your eyes upon
Choose the next poor fool to wear the crownÖ
Nine long years, Iíve never seen
Anyone whoís perfect, needing God to intervene
(From "Hero")

Whatís most interesting, though, is that even while taking on darker subject matter, Silettaís music doesnít lose any of its fun factor: indeed, some of the songs ("Shut Your Mouth," "Time Will Only Tell") are far catchier than The Latest Craze. And while the lyrics arenít exactly poetry, they certainly fit well with the music.

There are a couple of songs that deserve further attention. The first is a fast punk cover of "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys (now the punkers can finally admit that they like the song). The other is the albumís closer, "The Other Side," a slow number in the vein of "Happy Birthday," dedicated to Silettaís late friend and mentor, Gene Eugene:

Now Iím 27 and you were 38
Thank you for all your time
It meant so much to me
I know I bugged you sometimes
Thanks for loving me
You seemed to be the only one who understood me
Itís so often I think of you
You taught me so much
Who will I go to?
Doctor blue, always true
Even if the team lost all year
We dressed like clowns, walked all around
You know the people thought we were crazy
Itís a heartbreaker, and the perfect way to end the album.

Michial Farmer 8/28/2000



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