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When the World Sings
Artist: Fine China
Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Tracks/Time: 10 Tracks/35:54


My friend Brook and I went to Fine Chinaís Cornerstone 2000 set just to see if the lead singer was male or female. We fought our way through the crowd, and discovered that, indeed, Rob Withem is male, and his band makes great alternative/electronica music reminiscent of New Order, The Smiths, or maybe even a happier The Cure.

After receiving the bandís first release on a major label, When the World Sings, Iíve decided that I like their live show more. The album has its share of great songs ("We Rock Harder Than You Ever Knew" is wonderfully catchy, as are "Labor Saving Device" and "Give Us Treble," the bandís ode to both 80s music and Bandoppler magazine), but the Joy Electric influence is a bit too strong for my taste (Note: Fine China does not completely ride Ronnie Martinís coattails, like House of Wires or Goodnight Star, but Iíd prefer to see the band further explore their New Order and Smiths influences).

As for the lyricsÖwell, we can at least say they work well with the music. They come across as disjointed and rather repetitive at times, but much like Jason Martinís compositions, the groove is more important than coherent statements:

When youíve got no money and youíve got no life
And youíve got no family, how do you like it now?
You thought that it was cool, but itís over now
Iíve got my labor saving device, youíve got your labor saving device
(From "Labor Saving Device")
At other times, though, the bandís message is straightforward, such as album-opener "We Rock Harder Than You Ever Knew," a sly pot-shot at the rapcore scene:
Where is the gentleness and hope of the Lord, hope of the Lord
In all those men who compose violence?
Now we all hope that you will sing with us now, sing with us now
Because we think that you will like that
Iím not sure what kind of reception Fine China will get from Tooth & Nail fans. Iíve already heard from several people who donít "get" 80s music, bashing both the band and T&N for signing them. For those of you who grew up on New Order, though, When the World Sings will be a welcome trip down memory lane.

Michial Farmer 9/30/2000


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