Fang Island – Fang Island

This self-titled debut album from Fang Island, the quirky Brooklyn band who blend power pop with heavy metal so expertly, has left me exhilarated.

Imagine if you will Bill and Ted’s band Wyld Stallyons, but better, speeded up and backed by members of Primus, Faith No More and The Descendents. It’s a heady mix of humour, power chords and squealing solos that Fang Island pull off with aplomb.

Other reviewers, such as Pitchfork have referred to Fang Island’s debut as being “honest and life-affirming”. It’s hard to argue with that. They clearly love what they do and have produced a fantastic listen across all  its 10 tracks and 30 minutes.

Fang Island opens as it ends with the crackle and pop of a firework display and whirly-gig organ music. What comes in between is a collection of largely instrumental numbers, occasionally littered with chanting, but full to the brim with frenetic guitarmanship.

Second track  ‘Careful Crosser’ is among a whole bunch of highlights. A crazy mish- mash instrumental of sunny California punk, heavy metal and even the guitar part from The Clash’s ‘I’m Not Down’ pops in for a visit towards the end.

‘Daisy,’ and the next track ‘Life Coach’ are among  the few with lyrics. Well, I say lyrics, more like woo-woohing and chanting. They are the nearest they get to fellow New York hipsters like MGMT and Animal Collective, albeit with some sumptuous guitar chugs and squeals on the way.

Downsides include ‘Davey Crockett’, which is too long for this type of music.  My mind drifted a little during this one.

Another downside is the lack of vocals. While the chanting woo-woohing is pleasant enough it presents the band with a problem in terms of future direction. Do they want to be a proficient but small metal parody act, performing instrumentals, or use lyrics more and go for the accessibly experimental Animal Collective fanbase?

Since this is a debut I guess it doesn’t matter at this stage. That’s the future, in the here and now it’s just good to hear a bunch of New Yorkers going mental with guitars.

8/10

by Joe Lepper, Mar 2010

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