After the lamented demise of Grandaddy, guitarist Jim Fairchild was the first out the door with a solo album (under the name All Smiles), in Ten Readings of a Warning (QRO review). The unassuming acoustic alt-country was very nice, but hardly bowled you over. Since then, Fairchild served as touring guitarist for big-name Modest Mouse (QRO album review), was replaced by The Smiths’ Johnny Marr, and is currently back with Modest Mouse, filling-in for said ex-Smith. Somewhere amidst all of that, he managed to put together his second All Smiles release, Oh For the Getting And Not Letting Go. Working with co-producers Solon Bixler (of Great Northern – QRO album review) and Nik Freitas (of Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band – QRO live review), Fairchild mostly eschews the stripped ways of Ten Readings for power-pop that still doesn’t bowl you over, but also still spins nice.
The power-pop first kicks up during the somewhat boring opener “Maps To the Homes of Former Foes”, but only really hits its stride in the following “I Was Never the One”. The power isn’t exclusive: between bigger numbers like “Our Final Roles As Birds” and closer “It Never Saves Me”, there’s the softer alt-folk of “Words of Wisdom”, “All You Are Is a Human Sir”, and “Brother I Know My Way”. But when Fairchild turns down the pop-force, he rather sinks – witness the on & on atmosphere of “The Brightest Beyond”.
The standout of Getting stands out not just in quality, but also in style. Middle track “The Ones I Want To Live” marries neat indietronic beat & tones into a catchy strum. More of that would be welcome on the second All Smiles LP. As it is, Fairchild still more makes you smile than hooks you in.