Minneapolis band Farewell Milwaukee released their fourth full-length album, FM, on September 9. FM is the product of successfully achieving the balance of furthering their artistic careers with a family life. “[The album] has the first song ever written about my daughter, called ‘Hurt No More,’” says front man Ben Lubeck. "I texted my wife a few weeks ago after revisiting the album saying that this was the record I wanted my daughter to remember me by. Musically and lyrically.”
Mainstays of the Minneapolis music scene since 2008, Farewell Milwaukee embraces the role that their Midwestern towns have played in shaping them artistically, garnering them fans through their authentic lyrics, lush vocal harmonies, and an honest sincerity at live shows. It is because of this, they have gathered accolades from local and national press, landed a song placement on major-network TV, opened for the Lumineers (among others), and are featured on compilations alongside Mumford & Sons, Adele and Amos Lee.
The band’s success has given them perspective and an appreciation for their roots, which continuously comes across in FM. The album, filled with a thematic sense of grounding, was shaped by the stage-of-life lens of being husbands and fathers, and it is this concept of home base that made a concrete impression on FM’s overall flowing sound.
Produced by Minneapolis’ Jason Orris and recorded in Terrarium Music Studios, FM is the first album the band has recorded in town since their debut album, Autumn Rest Easy. Farewell Milwaukee has previously shied away from recording close to home in order to keep the flow of the process as smooth as possible; however, for this album, being close to home had a positive and productive effect on the record. “We’ve tried to avoid that [recording in town] in the past with the fear of it being a distraction and taking away from the process. But it seemed to make things very comfortable this time around in the best possible way. It seemed like the easiest record we've ever made. The logistics were simplified, we slept in our own beds at night,” says Lubeck.
Through the ease of the recording process, the band was able to take time to experiment with new sounds; this creativity and adventurousness brings FM to life through the addition of strings, steel guitar, and other sonic touches that the six-piece group perfected in the studio. “One of our greatest strengths is that we are all sympathetic to each other’s playing,” added Lubeck. “We give each other space to play the others’ instruments and take turns letting certain instruments take the spotlight.”
The unique sounds of the album make it difficult to fit FM into a particular genre (call it folk rock with a head and a tail, as described in an earlier album review from the Netherlands); however, genre tags are less important when projects like FM have beautifully crafted instrumentation accompanied by powerful lyrics and melodies.
“We're making the best music of our lives while experiencing some of life's most precious moments with our children. We're truly living out our personal dreams and couldn't be happier. My three-year-old runs around the house with a bedazzled pink guitar playing harmonica as loud as she can, trying to be like her daddy, and I don't have to experience that through the screen of an iPhone,” says Lubeck.