If first impressions defined our lives, "Fables" would probably be one of those albums that I listened to once, without another fleeting thought. Jarhand is not one of those opening tracks that will leave you craving more, but rather makes you wish there was slightly less. Annoyingly infectious, sounding more like country than indie rock "Jarhand" is everything one hopes not find in an opening track. Not only does the song lack that little spark that keeps you energized, but the overstated female harmonies make it feel easily forgettable. Jarhand's biggest problem as an opening track is that it tries too hard to impress, but ends up leaving you feeling empty and dry. In some alternate universe, I can almost picture a hauntingly simpler, quieter version of this song, with perfectly understated vocals. If only Immaculate Machine had chosen to take Jarhand in that direction. But before you toss Immaculate Machine's "Fables" out the window, give the rest of the album a try, trust me it gets better.
Thankfully, if Fables has any redeeming qualities as an album, it's the fact that not every song is so blatantly overstated. Admittedly, while I practically skipped over the next couple of tracks, it gets better. Fables finally finds its footing on the somewhat somber, passionate song "Old Flame". Certainly, not the best song IM has to offer, "Old Flame" offers a glimmer of hope amidst all the mundane. Slightly slower paced, Old Flame has an eclectic feel that makes it rather enjoyable. Subtly energetic, yet self-contained, the emotive "Nothing Ever Happens" is easily the best track. Beautifully complex, it feels like something you'd expect from Broken Social Scene or maybe even the setting for a summer blockbuster. In essence, "Nothing Ever Happens" is the perfect song to set the tone for the rest of Fables. And while it doesn't get better than this, the rest of the album still offers something more than just another annoying pop song.