Fang Island: Major
When Fang Island released their self-titled debut album in 2010, it’s greatness caught a lot of critics by surprise. The band deftly mixed Andrew W.K.‘s energy with Hella‘s mathrock proficiency. Although the album was not completely instrumental, vocals were not the focal point. When their were vocals however, they were soaring, sing-along vocals that had harmonies reminiscent of Kansas‘s “Carry On My Wayward Son.” Two years later, the band has the daunting task of following up such a critically strong debut. They do so with Major.
From the first seconds of opening track, “Kindergarten,” it becomes obvious that this is a new album with a new approach. “Kindergarten” is a vocal-filled piano ballad that sounds like it would be better suited on fun.‘s Some Night than on Fang Island’s debut album. The same can be said for the album’s lead single “Sisterly.” Although the track does ratchet up the volume a little with electric guitars in full use, it still lacks the energy and mathrock-qualities of the band’s debut.
Despite the greater commitment to vocals, the album still delivers a unique combination of elements. Tracks like “Make Me” sound like radio friendly pop rock with its catchy chorus and love-centric themes but the addition of hard rock lead guitar vamps echoing the vocal line give the track that signature Fang Island edge. “Asunder” is the sixth track on the album but it feels like the first track that is more focused on instrumentation than vocals. The track is built around a fairly complex guitar riff and features an extended reverbed guitar solo. “Dooney Rock” continues the focus on instrumentation but unlike any Fang Island track before it, it is mostly based around acoustic guitars. While the song noticeably switches to more electric instruments at the two minute mark but the beginning of the song is mostly dueling acoustics.
While “Asunder” and “Dooney Rock” hearken back to Fang Island’s debut, Major does mark a decided shift in focus. Despite that shift, Fang Island does not disappoint. It is as if they are taking that mathrock, metal-influenced gimmick and fitting it within a more traditional pop songwriting package. The result is an album that you can sing-along with, head-bang to, and ultimately be amazed by.
MP3: Fang Island “Make Me”
Buy: iTunes or Insound! vinyl
Fang Island: Major