You know Fitz and the Tantrums. You might not be able to pick their singles out from a line up but if you’ve had any access to radio at all in the last two years it is without doubt you’ve heard their brand of emotive, crisp pop. Singles like “Money Grabber” and “Don’t Gotta Work it Out” prolly had your toes tapping and hips shaking because that’s what the LA natives do best. Their first album Pickin’ up the Pieces was an indie-pop neo soul critical and commercial success, no small feat for a recently minted and freshly signed group.
And things only seem to be getting better. Major label support combined with relentless touring has turned these fledgling dance floor virtuosos into combat tested veterans ready and able to conquer both the pop radio waves and the summer festival circuit. It is the ubiquitous nature of Fitz and co, their hard work combined with an ability to sonically offer it all up while simultaneously making you want to dance that has created their success. Their sophomore offering, More than just a Dream doesn’t let up the slack and proves Fitz and the Tantrums isn’t just a flash in the pan.
From the opening bars of “Out of My League,” More than just a Dream takes the best features of a dance agenda and combines it with the depth and substance of the soul genre. From one track to the next the album is relentlessly upbeat, filled with hooks that keep your attention from straying, and sing along choruses that won’t let you forget the feel good blast your having as the audience. This doesn’t mean More than just a Dream is your average consume and discard pop fare though, far from it.
The titular track, “More Than Just a Dream” with its biblical lyric references entwined into a classical pop format twists a hint of the ever (presently) popular 80’s synth angle into more common sense drum/bass/keyboard orchestration. It serves as an dynamic template for the album as a whole. Fitz et al do an excellent job of blending dancefloor irreverence with weightier subjects. Much in the vein of old school 60’s motown they give interpersonal relationships a universal appeal. Third track and most likely contender for single, “the Walker” showcases better than any other the mass appeal and generalist approach towards songwriting and structure which has generated the rags to riches success Fitz and the Tantrums currently enjoy. But it doesn’t stop there, from first to last the album as a whole invites a best of both worlds comparison, both fun and feeling, the timeless and current, and a depth that is yet dance-worthy.
The lush production, emotive vocals, and an approach to songwriting that pushes the envelope while respecting pop-sensibilities makes More than just a Dream an album to listen to and digest for content as well as a fun summer jam to blast out the windows on your beach trip.