Fang Island - Fang Island
Lush, stadium-rock style layers of sound and vaguely church-organ infused choral qualities pepper Fang Island's first album. But that's not all Rhode Island to Brooklyn transplant quintet brings to the table. There's also a satisfying air of dance-punk and anthem-power rock guitar happening. With three talented guitarists (Jason Bartell, Chris Georges and Nicholas Andrew Sadler), a bassist (Michael Jacober) and speeding drummer (Marc St. Sauveur), Fang Island creates the kind of chanting, uplifting music that drives a listener to move, get up, jump around and feel utterly satisfied. Guitarist Bartell describes the band's sound as "music for people who like music" and that's just about the perfect summation. Hook-laden and bouncy, Fang Island is an album for the people, one designed to make music fun.
Populated with short songs, Fang Island finds an agreeable mix of Vampire Weekend's catchy near-drunken wavering and the big build semi-choruses that happen with Them Crooked Vultures, but still they maintain an identity of nonchalance. It never appears that Fang Island is trying too hard to make good music, but rather that it just happens. This is like a heavier, more lush version of early Weezer, with some tinges of the Liars most recent release. Lots of big sound, big production, long '70s style solos that taper into chaotic drumming and hard power chords. The only downside to the album is that many of the songs sound un-strikingly similar. With the exception of opener "Dreams of Dreams" and the skillful "Daisy" and "Davey Crockett," the album can pass by almost too easily. That's not always a bad thing. Fang Island avoids the vice of over-experimentation by providing a singular sound across an album of ebbing and rising waves. Each song has its own hook, a guitarist's dream really, that there's a sense of surf rock, punk, pop, power pop, and arena rock.
And the closing track, the brief and elegant "Dorian," which ends with the crackling sound of popping record grooves (the same sound that opens "Dreams of Dreams" in fact) provides a feeling of exceptional closure. Fang Island seems close throughout their self-titled debut. By which I mean near. Fang Island feels like summertime. It is warm, speedy, but driving and passionate. It feels like an album for a beach night bonfire, a cookout or an afternoon and evening by the pool. The band takes hold of their time frame, creating the feeling of a single passing day, punctuated at points and quiet in others, but ultimately giving in to the calm, cool quiet of night. Ultimately, it's arena-rock guitar heroics with a lot of heart. And that's all right.
You can check out Fang Island on Myspace, or just go pick up the album, which in addition to my happy review (let's say 5 out of 7 lanterns... will that catch on?) has earned best new music honors from Pitchfork and other reputable locations across the web.
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