Review : Fang Island - Major
PitchforkAfter releasing their irrepressible second record of high-fivin', guitar-tappin' spazz-rock, Fang Island started to incorporate a cover of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" into their live sets. Two things stood out: While they were hardly the only indie rock band at the time showing love to 90s R&B hits, they didn't approach it with anything resembling irony or cred-consciousness, and thus were one of the few who didn't completely embarrass themselves. Secondly, while keeping its core intact, they still managed to make it sound like a Fang Island song. This was a genuine revelation-- Fang Island was stuffed with so many triple-guitar harmonies, shouted group vocals and octopus-armed drum fills that the dearth of traditional songcraft came off like a necessary casualty rather than a deficiency. Fang Island initially felt like a single idea perfected, "celebration rock" before Celebration Rock (right down to the fireworks that began and ended the record). But now that they're edging their way into real-deal songwriting on Major, we get to see whether they were in any way holding back on us.
Major isn't as much of a change as you might expect-- their compositional method takes more cues from something like Fang Island's "Life Coach" than "Always Be My Baby", which is admittedly something of a letdown if Major was intended as a progression rather than a lateral movement. There are no big personal disclosures, narrative ambitions, or political causes on Major, nor are they revealing themselves as masterful architects of baroque song structure. Rather, Fang Island write vocal melodies and lyrics the same way they write riffs, simple yet very enthusiastic smile-triggers that are designed to be doubled and tripled for effect. A line like "I hope I never understand" fits into Fang Island's worldview not just as a philosophy but because it simply sounds like the words that should be accompanying ascending and descending notes of a major key scale...full text
GuardianEveryone high-fiving everyone" was how Brooklyn trio Fang Island described their 2010 debut, and the same sense of gleeful abandon drives its follow-up. Hats off, for starters, for the volume of big-haired soloing on display here; foot-on-monitor instrumental Chompers consists of little else, while Dooney Rock makes an unlikely success of electric bluegrass. But Major isn't the hipster pastiche that might lead you to suspect; much of this record deals in warm West Coast pop, its hair-rock extensions grafted on to hazy melodies and harmonies, as on blissed-out centrepiece Asunder...full text
BbcFang Island make cheesy riffs and top-of-your-voice sing-alongs seem the most vital musical elements, ever. Their unabashed enthusiasm for all-embracing, utterly accessible noise-with-pop-nous is incredibly endearing – it’s (probably scientifically) impossible to come away from Major without a big dumb grin plastered from ear to ear.
Major is the Rhode Island outfit’s second album. Their first, an eponymous set released in 2010, was the kind of problems-forgetting collection that scooped its audience up and tumbled them around like each set of ears was cocooned within a wildly bouncing zorb. These 11 tracks pull off similar tricks – albeit not instantly. Kindergarten is an unexpected opener, its dominant constituent a piano. Yet its elegantly simple lyricism – “All I know / I learned in / Kindergarten,” goes its central refrain – is completely in tune with the unadulterated thrills that follow.
Sisterly immediately injects some amplified six-string adrenaline. It’s like the most euphoric moments of Weezer’s catalogue – those times when Rivers is singing about being awesome, rather than getting dumped – rolled into a single, sub-four-minute package. And Major repeats this feat, of delivering fist-punching tracks of triumphantly transcendental tumult, several times....full text
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