Music News

Fiction Plane

My dad sells coffee for a living. Joe Sumner's dad just played halftime at the Super Bowl. My dad goes to church every Sunday. Joe Sumner's dad owns a yoga studio. My dad's name is Mark. Joe Sumner's dad goes by Sting. Joe Sumner's band, Fiction Plane, just released an album called Everything Will Never Be O.K. on MCA. I'm just writing about it.

To the band's credit, there is no mention in either the liner notes or the self-produced material of the familial linkage. And while Sting's old band relied on catchy hooks ("Sending out an SOS") and an airtight structure, Fiction Plane's style is anti-pop, with few repeated verses or simple chords. Any utterance of "doo doo doo" or "da da da" would be unthinkable on a Fiction Plane track like "Do I Feel Loved," a fidgety interlude in which Sumner broods like Thom Yorke.

But that's where the incongruence ends. The lyrical similarities between Pops and the kid, for instance, are uncanny. The Police addressed the issue of political unrest in Northern Ireland with the song "Invisible Sun" on their 1981 album Ghost in the Machine: "I don't want to spend the rest of my life/Looking at the barrel of an Armalite." More than 20 years later, Joe Sumner's emotive lyrics about knee-jerk militarism on the Third Eye Blind-sounding "Soldier Machismo" are eerily familiar: "I wanna put glue down your gun/Imagine pointing that thing at your son."

If that's not convincing enough, explore Sting's ode to self-pity, "King of Pain" ("I have stood here before inside the pouring rain/With the world turning circles running 'round my brain"), and place it next to Fiction Plane's "I Wish I Would Die" ("To wallow in pain/Used to make me feel like/I wasn't the same").

Whatever. So what if Sumner coasts on his dad's musical coattails? I bet he doesn't get free cappuccino.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Joy Hepp
Contact: Joy Hepp