Fang Island were arguably thee buzz band of this years SXSW festival, but as it often does such hype passed me by at the time. So upon first listen to this album I had no idea what to expect…and I was slightly baffled. The band describe their sound as ‘everyone high-fiving everyone’ and it does sound a bit like a mess of entangled over enthusiastic arms which haven’t thought through the practicalities of such a show of camaraderie. Initially at least, as with further listens the sugary noise of Fang Island begins to sound more and more carefully choreographed. The combination of stadium rock riffs, chip tune and harmonised chants which previously scrambled for control begin to coalesce in to a surprisingly euphoric whole.
Opening an album with the sound of fireworks implies rather a lot; anticipation, beauty and explosiveness are all expected to follow. Even within that first track though the cracks and pops give way to a luscious organ and sweet harmonies which helps ease that anticipation. Highlights shortly thereafter include the rampant energy of Daisy, an exhilarating adrenaline rush normally only evoked by the nostalgia of your favourite pop punk hits, quite unlike those though it manages to cram a wealth of ideas in to it’s three minutes. Sideswiper is a gargantuan stadium rock riff which whilst being incredibly cheesy is impossible not to warm to with it’s galloping incessant rhythm. This is fuelled further by it’s collapse in to what is almost an acapella section were it not for the reels of feedback still lingering. It’s a wonderfully executed change of pace which sums up the playful nature of the album as a whole.
The appreggio synth at the opening of Davey Crockett is a brief respite from the giddiness but it builds gradually, piling layer upon layer so that you barely notice each ones introduction and after four minutes it has become a cacophonous swell of guitars, chants and splashing drums. Closer Dorian is a beautiful vignette of scattered keys and the same noise of fireworks which opened the album, signalling the close of a whirlwind half an hour. Whilst the running time may flash by, come the end I do find myself struggling to recall any specific moments and though some would argue this isn’t necessarily a bad thing I can’t help but disagree.
This is what all party music ought to sound like, and if we’re lucky then it will in the future. Fang Island are here now though, and they’re making something relatively unparalleled. It might be a little overwhelming and confusing at times, it’s exuberant all out assault of joyousness may grate on some, and once it’s over you might not remember much of what you’ve experienced but I guess that’s what a party is right? If nothing else this is an album which is thoroughly fit for purpose.