March 4, 2024

New Fury Media

Music. Gaming. Nostalgia. Culture.

Mercury Summer: Revisiting Fightstar’s 2009 rock masterpiece, “Be Human”

British rock band Fightstar are the very definition of underrated. Boasting a passionate and devoted fanbase, the band’s 4 albums and debut EP were all critically acclaimed, and realistically any one of their records could be considered their best. Modern rock simply does not get more interesting or dangerous than Fightstar.

Despite their success in the UK and Europe, though, the band isn’t as successful as one would hope considering their extremely skilled musicianship and songwriting. While any of their albums are a great place to start, it’s 2009’s Be Human that really saw the band spread the wings in all aspects of their sound. This is not a record to be overlooked.

Be Human is, above all, a musically dynamic record. Opener “War Machine” sets the tone early on, with a stunningly effective orchestral arrangement that really gives the song a big boost in terms of having an epic production. However, Be Human isn’t overblown at all. Much like the following record would do with synths and electronic subtleties, Be Human is all about taking rock’s basic foundation; big pop hooks and catchy melodies – the driving riffs of alternative metal and post-hardcore, experimenting with electronic soundscapes and traditional verse-chorus-verse structure, to create something fantastic and influential.

Be Human is probably the band’s most diverse record to date, especially if you consider the bonus tracks that were added on the Special Edition of the album. “A City On Fire” is a fun, hook-filled rock track that has some of vocalist Charlie Simpson’s best vocals, and obvious hit “Mercury Summer” carries on in that same fashion, though leaning more toward the pop side of things. Standout song “Tonight We Burn” even has some Cure-like melodies, which adds even more depth.

Don’t think for a second that Be Human isn’t capable of bringing the metal attack, though. Penultimate track “Damocles” comes out of nowhere to provide one of the heaviest Fightstar moments – though like always, it carries a devastatingly effective hook and melodic chorus to go on top of it. A lesser band could mess this dichotomy up, but Fightstar makes it look effortless. “Chemical Blood” isn’t necessarily an over-the-top heavy track, but the machine gun riffs and drums that start out the song help deliver an immediacy that isn’t always present on Be Human. That’s for the better, of course.

It’s important to note just how impressive Fightstar is as a unit. Keeping in mind that frontman Charlie Simpson went from a pop-punk (emphasis on pop) band to immediately silence his critics shortly after leaving Busted initially (also keep in mind, that is a band who sold millions of records in just a couple short years), it makes the fact that Fightstar exhibit obvious depth and love for rock and its various subgenres that makes them such a refreshing group to hear. That’s something many bands, even veteran acts, could learn from.

At the end of the day, Be Human is a Fightstar record. That means that you’re at the very least bound to find something interesting to sink your teeth into, but by pushing the boundaries of rock and post-hardcore’s framework, Fightstar is a band that commands your attention. What an impressive achievement.

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