Album ReviewMusic

Happy About … Fictional Illustrations

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Mon May 01 2023

By: Martha Kowalski

After missing the chance to review their 2021 album Silver Crane, I was delighted to find Fly By Midnight's newest album on the same day it came out. This is a band I quickly came to like after listening to their 2019 album Happy About Everything Else… due to their incredibly clever lyrics and song structure – because yes, of course, the ellipses in the title are important! – so this was a familiar, great artist to return to. The alt-pop duo's music always seem to set the scene for me of living a busy, bustling, twenty-something life in New York City while falling in and out of love as you try to figure out what the future might bring – and this was all before I even knew they had an album already titled New York Nostalgia – so every time I hear Fly By Midnight's music, that is the mood and image that come to mind.

While I still prefer Happy About Everything Else… to this new album Fictional Illustrations, many things about it sometimes tip the scales over to its favor. Choosing a favorite song from their 2019 album would be difficult; here, even though I can appreciate each track, a handful of songs are my clear winners, as I'll describe later on. Another difference is that the signature of Fly By Midnight for me are their ingenious lyrics which were so prevalent in Happy About Everything Else… that I was left searching for a bit in Fictional Illustrations, and though I did eventually find them with a Eureka moment, they weren't quite up to the level of “I'm waiting tables, waiting for tables to turn.” Nevertheless, the lyricism still is enough to impress with lines like “Under the stars is when I'm over the moon,” and “Dancing with the devil, takes my heart to hell and right back.”

Unexpectedly, my favorite element in this album is the timing. Fly By Midnight could fall into the alt-pop, slightly rock and slightly jazz genre, so most of their songs are steady drumbeats and guitar, which also sets up the potential for top-notch beat drops, percussion stylings and dramatic pauses, which they flawlessly incorporate into their songs at the exact perfect moment – consult the bridge into final refrain of “In the Night” and “Different Lives” for examples. Also paced really well to match the energy the title suggests is “Lightning in a Bottle,” but the more ballad-like song “What If I Wasn't Done Loving You?” can dial down the intensity to a more subdued, thoughtful track in comparison to the bouncier rest of the album.

I mentioned before that I did have some highlight tracks on Fictional Illustrations. Firstly and by far, I love “Different Lives,” everything from the intro, the storyline and the instrumental pause before the last chorus – my number one song on this album. My two other honorable mentions are: “In the Night,” which is very catchy with a sweet melody and I must say that the outro to this track is my single favorite moment on the entire album, and “Dance,” for its smart lyrics and sassy, bouncy vibe that – well – makes you want to dance. These are my personal favorites but every other track on the album is also great in its own way, from the quick-paced “Sometimes” to the paradox of “Infinitely Falling” when supposedly “nothing lasts forever anymore.”

Overall then, I'm glad to have this new release of Fly By Midnight, especially since it's been a while since one of my older artists released a full album, and Fictional Illustrations is definitely a great, real masterpiece.