Any interest at all in Fiction Factory's Throw the Warped Wheel Out will most likely originate from the album's opening track, "(Feels Like) Heaven." With its church bell synths and Kevin Patterson's brooding vocals, "(Feels Like) Heaven" is an `80s new wave classic. Often mistaken for a love song, "(Feels Like) Heaven" is about the exhilaration following the disintegration of a painful, loveless relationship. The lyrics seethe with corrosive angst: "Twist the bones until they snap/ I scream but no one knows." Like Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "(Feels Like) Heaven" deceptively buries its anguish beneath toe-tapping keyboards. However, one song cannot carry the weight of an entire LP; fortunately, Fiction Factory were talented enough to craft worthy successors. The light funk of "Heart & Mind" is derivative yet catchy, recalling Heaven 17. The heartbreaking "Panic," with its somber refrain of "Laughing, crying," should have been used in one of John Hughes' teen films; one can easily imagine Molly Ringwald wiping tears from her eyes after a bad prom date while Patterson sings, "I'm sad from within." Throw the Warped Wheel Out is a vastly underrated album, disappointing only record buyers who want every track to sound like "(Feels Like) Heaven." The slow groove of "The Hanging Gardens" or the brisk, soulful melodies of "All or Nothing" may not have the instant appeal of "(Feels Like) Heaven", but repeated spins uncover the finger-snapping hooks within. Those who feel that Fiction Factory's artistry peaked with "(Feels Like) Heaven" should immediately listen to the mercilessly hummable "The First Step." Resistance is futile. ~ Michael Sutton
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