Review: FIG MINTS (OF YOUR IMAGINATION) – Excercises In Futility

The boundaries of home recording equipment have been removed for quite some time. Long gone are the days of four-track cassette machines and bouncing; the art of scotch-tape over the protection tabs on Michael Bolton tapes given as gifts from far removed relatives because the store was closed seems almost lost. Digital interface, non-destructive editing, primitive pitch correction, and a galaxy of on-board effects at “reasonably affordable” prices makes analog craft boxes seem archaic and knucklish. The mix tape is gone, the mp3 era as arrived, and the wake created a great wind that set the lo-fi dream ship to sail into the great abyss we call “The Island of Forgotten Toys.”

Or so it was thought.

The latter half of this decade has seen a rejection of this silly idea. While digital recording is nifty and allows for a palette far beyond the capacity or need of many modern musicians, its missing the charm, the soul of tape hiss and natural distortion, the blood of bobbles in the takes, the mistakes that make a song human, the warmth that makes a song honest. This is not necessarily a new idea. Guided By Voices did it way before anyone thought is was cool. Lately bands the likes of the Black Lips and Wavves have been poking out of the mire and grabbing the affections of many purists and old-schoolers. For every group noticed for doing something “new” there always lies a subculture that understands the principles as well or better than the flagships that give it awareness. Fig Mints (of Your Imagination) is a shining example of a band that not only has had a solid grasp of this new ‘old’ sound, but have been at it for several years, culminating to this record, “Exercises in Futility”. It’s from this frame of reference the title is apt.

On the surface this album is unbridled and unkempt. Things are slightly out of tune or minutely out of key. Instruments are pegged and microphones are flattened out by the immensity of the sounds that pummel them. This is the future, ladies and gentlemen. Like track 2, A Change of Season, this record is the sonic equivalent of skipping class with your friends and mocking the world as it toils around you. Its unbounded and focused, yet is fenced by morals and codes that culture seemed hasty to forget. These songs call for normalcy in the midst of hurry, with the understanding that often the express route to normalcy can include a level of self-medication, most clearly represented in the opening track, The Well-Worn Road. What may be most striking about that particular song as well as the rest of the record is its consciousness. The Fig Mints are well aware of what they’re doing, much to our benefit. We are all entrenched in a field of voices, and “Exercises in Futility” sets up camp and is perfectly content to stay where it is and wave to the passing cars.

This is not a complicated record. The songs are ushered and unrelenting, moving like freight in the night. Guitars are towing ever further, yet are not overpowering. Even the solos are conservative and well shaped while commanding and necessary. The understated and restrained rhythm section plants its grooves like furrows in black soil, emerging from its toil to bomb the universe into bending at its every whim. All the while the vocals talk you through, calming and inciting, and always in the drivers seat. The range of the album is great, yet cohesive. Its tantric nature easily takes the mood from darkly introspective (Strung Out Sentries) to warmly reflective (the Stooges-esque My Days At University). The movement of the record as a whole resembles the behavior of a house party. At first all talk is intimate and the ideas are big, the songs are pointed and relaxed, often without drums. As the room fills up, songs like Undead Idea Mines convey a letting go, an acceptance of our own weirdness and the weirdness of others. Further down the line, as the room gets looser, the vibe descends into a lo-fi fuzz fest of whirl and rock and roll, particularly with Don’t Stay There and Its All I Can Do (To Stay Awake).

Down and dirty Ariel Pink kids will love this record. Black-shirted rock kids will love this record. Literate post-secondary astronauts that have learned to enjoy poverty will love this record. “Exercises in Futility” is eerily relevant and strongly appropriate for its time and season.

Wilford Benevolus
Junior Rock Analyst and Amateur Spokesperson for the League of American Wheelmen, Intl.


For more info on “Excercises In Futility” go to:

Out Now!

Here it is! Two years, two states, one retrospective outtakes EP, and five relocations after “Hugs and Smiles” hit the virtual shelves, Fig Mints are back with “Exercises In Futility”!

At the moment, the album is available only through mail orders for $8. Suffice to say, it’s worth it. The songs are his best yet, and it’s been reported that Bobby is only interested in breaking even with the money that he spent putting it out, so show some love and email for info on how to buy a copy, or just send your name and address with the payment to:

Cozy Home Records
512 Henry St.
Utica, NY

And please follow up with an email to ensure quick turnaround!

Physical copies of the new album “Exercises In Futility” will be available in a limited pressing of 100 featuring a full color booklet including lyrics. Each will be hand numbered and feature a hand-made collage, found picture, or photograph by Bobby.


1 Comment

  • On 04.02.09 daydreamgen said:

    thanks for the review Wilford

    “Literate post-secondary astronauts that have learned to enjoy poverty will love this record”

    I concur