Fang Island - Major
Fang Island’s last self-titled album was one of my favorites of 2010, a collection of pure joy and excitement filtered into music, full of fireworks and buildups that just made for a good time. The songs weren’t tightly constructed, and it sounded like “a bunch of dudes high fiving each other”. On their follow up, things are toned down as they tighten up their sound, working hard to carefully construct actual songs as opposed to three minute bursts of excitement. This is evident from the first song “Kindergarten” which starts with a slow piano line, features wistful vocals, and a backing choir. The band starting off on a restrained note feels like a statement that more thought and care was put into the construction and production of these songs. A few “Smells Like Teen Spirit” style palm mutes later and they’re back into party mode, albeit a cleaner and more polished form of it. “Sisterly” continues as a pretty fun yet standard indie pop song, and “Seek It Out” continues in this vein. When you can understand the lyrics, they are still in the same celebratory manner that made them so fun to listen to before. “Make Me” sounds like Fun. channeled through Fang Island with its big poppy hooks in the verses and motivational lyrics like “You make me work for it every single day”.
“Never Understand” is another solid indie pop song, there’s just less of Fang Island’s signature brand present this time around. The same goes for lead single “Asunder”, which soars off big hooks, but never feels as deliriously exciting as “Daisy” did two years ago. Things pick up when they abandon the singing on “Dooney Rock”, which jaunts along like an old folk ditty. Everything sounds good, it just doesn’t have the same reckless abandon of the last album. “Chime Out” brings thing close to the end with a nice anthem, but it’s the last song that reaches a high point. After starting with a super upbeat jingly keyboard line, the vocals and piano build up until the guitar comes in with a solo that matches the chorus line for something really special because it feels more organic and less forced as they sing “if you want to fall in love, you can do it” over and over as the guitar soars. That’s when Fang Island are at their best, repeating a simple yet affecting mantra over in a way that emotionally resonates as the music reaches celebratory heights. They don’t do that as much as they should on Major, but it’s still a good album, especially if you’re looking for well constructed upbeat indie pop.
- David Sackllah