Fez – Being Born

WARNING: As a still-current song, opinion may yet change and significant alterations to the post may occur as said opinion changes or new details emerge.

The most “out there” song on NLOTH, the hyphen suggests that we’re not actually to regard it as two songs, which is fair enough – what would be “Fez”, if we did, would only last a minute, and the division is not much more discrete than that between the three parts of “Zooropa”; the song retains it sense of tension throughout, switching up the tempo and solidifying. As suggested in the title, the first part is very Morrocan, ethnic percussion, vocal harmonies and the ghostly sound of Bono’s “let me in the sound” refrain (interestingly, this comes after “Boots” on the album, but foreshadows it on the at-time-of-writing forthcoming Linear). After a quick descending melody that sounds like some special-effects cue from a 70s TV show (and somehow isn’t as naff as that sounds), it bursts out into a driving, urgent piece, the most kinetic moment on an album that isn’t exactly lacking in them. We especially thank Larry for this – rendered somewhat inert on many areas of the previous two albums (and not always having much to do on the likes of “Velvet Dress” and “The First Time”), he’s really pushed forward not just here, but across the album.

That said, a weakness of the song is how Bono – the other band member to have raised their game markedly – isn’t given the chance to show it here. The vocals here are minimal, harmonised Passengers-stylee, and as such don’t necessarily come across as being as striking as much of the rest of the song. Although there’s a sleekness and slightly 70s vibe (inevitable mentions of Can, Kraftwerk and Eno should be gotten out of the way here) updated for 2009, the inevitable comparison with respect to U2’s back catalogue is easily with “Race Against Time” from the Joshua Tree. 22 years on, however, this is the fuller, stronger song.

Overall, “Fez – Being Born” is one of the weakest songs on the album, but it comes across as one of those songs truly designed for Linear. I’m thinking, particularly, of a bike-along-an-empty-road scene filled with helicopter shots. The song also bears the important role of cutting the album away from the central three songs, what I’ll call the Sloganeering Section due to its message-heavy lyrics, and taking us to the final three, which switch about in arrangements not unlike this. So: good, not great, but a certain Tony Corbijn’s film will perhaps unlock the true potential of it.

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~ by 4trak on February 24, 2009.

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