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  The Fortune Theatre  
  Fake Ray  
  One Cell Records  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  

Fortune Theatre is the debut mini album by promising London act, Fake Ray, who have previously released two rather good singles, The Fumes Are Deadly and Star Maps. But don't fret if you missed them, because they're both gathered here along with the excellent I Was Already Dead b-side which, to these ears, was even better than the a-sides.

Indeed, it is their debut single The Fumes Are Deadly which opens proceedings here, and quite rightly so, because it really is a neat little number that knows where it's going, and wants to get there FAST. Star Maps, their second single, follows, and you wonder if Fake Ray are showing their hand a little too early by putting both singles on so early. Star Maps, with its driving beat and John Rays' almost manic vocals, has already improved with age. I needn't have worried though, because although we're three tracks in before we have chance to hear what new delights Fake Ray have thrust upon us, the next track, Piano Wire, is really interesting. A lone (simulated?) piano hits out some solitary doomy chords over a heavily percussive beat that reminds me of The Jam's Funeral Pyre. Then the piano gets all tinkly and a distorted Lennon-like voice bursts in with barely legible phrases like (I think) "I didn't see the tension with my eyes wide open". It's an excellent, almost unnerving track that also brings to mind acts like Hood and 23 Skidoo, and one that shows that Fortune Smiles, the more atmospheric piece on their first single, wasn't a one–off.

Things That I've Hated is altogether a more straightforward affair, with Ray telling us that "love is under-estimated" whilst indulging in what amounts to a lengthy chat-up line over some nice Peter Hook-like basslines c/o Chris Hunt, before an almost Nirvana-like chorus bursts in somewhat belatedly. Illustrated Man has a more sinister feel, with Ray telling us that "when I think of what I've done I shiver shiver shiver still". It's also got some Bolanic lalalala's over Paul Warren's busy beat, resulting in an almost hypnotic feel, before it ends with a great two note discordant guitar solo. It's a great track, as is the aforementioned I Was Already Dead, which I previously compared with The Perfect Disaster, but which has a looseness that also brings to mind The Stooges.

The album closes with Dive, which on early listens was probably my least favourite track here as it initially has a more typical indie feel. Still, it builds nicely to a Beatle-ish chorus (aided by some Bowie-like phrasing), and with its almost yearning quality has proved something of a real grower.

I ended my review of Star Maps by saying that I wanted to hear what Fake Ray's next step was. Well, a seven track mini album that includes three previously released tracks mightn't have answered all the questions, but it has left me wanting more. Fortune Theatre is a USA-only release at the moment. So get in there first…

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