Edwards has never been at a loss for appealing melodies and penetrating lyrics, but here he's digging deep, not only into his trick bag of tunes but also his personal lockbox of thoughts and feelings. That's not to say he's being confessional here - Edwards has rarely indulged in straightforward, solipsistic self-flagellation. Instead he uses the emotions engendered by both his troubles and triumphs to create songs with emotional resonance beyond himself. Thus the brooding "The Imposter," which points fingers at those who are never straight about anything, could just as easily be aimed at a mirror as at an unfaithful lover or lying politician. "Way To the Stars" may wrestle with self-doubt and confusion, but it hews so closely to its rocking melody that it's as uplifting as it is tentative - "The best I can do," he notes, "is follow the line." The gently psychedelic "Ghost" weaves its mournful cello lines around a universal theme of regret and longing. The lilting "Sandrine Bonnaire" could be simply a meditation on romantic obsession for the wrong lover as much as a tribute to the titular French actress.
Mind you, Edwards isn't a gloom monger. A dry, sardonic sense of humor manifests in "The Liar," "The English Blues" and "Dizzy" ("I'm dizzy from laughing/Not making amends"), and his tunes pull the lyrics away from the heart of darkness without artificially induced catharsis. The heart of the album beats strongest in "No More Songs," in which artistic renewal comes from surrender to one's own limitations, as in the face of a shattered life Edwards makes the claim in the title. By setting these sentiments to the record's most gorgeous melody, however, he slyly subverts his own admission. It's not only the record's most impressive moment, but the pinnacle of Edwards' career thus far.
To say The Fates is a fine record is almost damning it with faint praise - fans of Edwards' expert craftspersonship on his Music Lovers work know that he's incapable of making a bad LP. And the music contained herein hardly wanders far afield from his usual path. But there's a new emotional urgency here, as if Edwards has rediscovered the reason he makes music in the first place, and that gives The Fates a core that elevates it into the sphere of an artist's greatest statements.
If you are looking for an album that contains some stellar musical talent and nice composition, Matthew Edwards and the Unfortunates’ The Fates is one for you. I know I’ve been listening to it a lot lately. Hints of odd musicians old and new are hidden within this beautifully crafted piece of music. Two notable influences are Scott Walker and Philip Selway. Other elements worth a mention include the band’s ability to play a diverse myriad of instruments while maintaining a cohesive sound, as well as their mastery of harmonies and melodies that flood the listeners’ ears with emotion. The music is as seductive as the album art.