Monday, January 7, 2013

Fang Island: Major

Some bands make it so easy. They are so good and consistent at what they do that I certainly don't need to over-exert my muscles by explaining to you exactly what is so awesome about them. Usually, they are bands with a "sound." Lately on this site, I've been targeting acts like this, whose sound is, for one reason or another, particularly appealing and strong, compared to, say, writing a well-realized and broad scope of songs. Neither approach is guaranteed to produce better results, one is just easier to talk about. Before the New Year's break I wrote about Japandroids. Here's another side of that coin.

Fang Island, man, they really know what to do with their guitars. "Dooney Rock." "Chompers." Come on, guys. I do not need to tell you anything about this band other than I can safely get out of the way, let them find their way to the people who are going to want to hear it. Which should be everybody, or at least everybody I let know about this blog.

What is this sound? This majestic quality that speaks for itself? It's maid with mountains of sharp, clean, orchestral levels of guitars, playing riffs that are exuberant and full of enthusiasm for life and creativity. This is fun, joyful music, not terribly different from that of Japandroids in philosophy but far apart in execution. Instead of ringing, brutalist concrete garage anthems, we have delicate, pinpoint riffs that reach very specific peaks and valleys, cresting and crashing all over each other, almost too shiny and perfect to exist. Also appearing sometimes are pristine, refined pianos, on the curtain-raiser "Kindergarten" and closer "Victorinian," lending some class and dignity to the affair. It's highly managed, far from my own conception of what rock "should be," in its raw and untamed state. Yes, I have my own ideas about that, but I am not closed-minded. There are also propulsive drums and usually cheerful vocals.

It's definitely art-rock, with emphasis on rock, and with more of a classical interpretation of "art." The members of Fang Island are obviously extremely talented players and they are not afraid to show off - there is so much going on on this record it surprises me on listen after listen. But they also manage to avoid the pitfalls many technically skilled players risk when it comes time to create a piece of music. They get out of their own way and let the music do the talking, sometimes obscuring their obvious skills behind a talent for finding the right level of simplicity.

The songs are not quite songs but compositions: there are vocals and sometimes verses and choruses, and definitely some structure, but it's all mostly just there to provide some frame of reference, scenery, a skeleton to hang the absorbing riffs and vibrant, towering solos over. I don't want to dismiss their lyrical acumen (they prove a vital part even when it's as simple as "All I know I learned in / Kindergarten" or "I hope I'll never understand") but it's clear they have their priorities in order. Through their music, Fang Island does what most great bands aspire to, and that's reach someplace nobody's ever explored before. Glad to have them as guides.

Buy this album now: iTunes Canada // iTunes USA

No comments:

Post a Comment