UK Reviews Coming In for Fang Island’s Major = Love
Fang Island’s new album Major is out on July 24, 2012 in North America and will come out in Europe on July 30, 2012. The UK press is already starting to weigh in
and so far so good!
Fang 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.
Seek it Out threatens to be a Russian Circles-like monster of heaviness; but these savvy musicians soon click into pop-minded gear to establish an easily identifiable verse-chorus-verse structure that, while creatively unadventurous, is powered by rocket fuel. Dooney Rock is a rather different proposition, something like a (completely incongruous) Irish jig scene in a Paul Verhoeven sci-fi flick, the musicians sporting reel shoes down south and mohawks up top.
Odd electronic trumpets spurt from Regalia; Chime Out is sludge-rock scattered with diamonds; and Never Understand is surely the lost titles music to a summer holiday sit-com (Pugwall, anyone?). So while Major plays up to the strengths of its predecessor, it also showcases vocal development and keeps the familiar listener guessing. That, and it manages to pull the most ridiculously OTT moves throughout.
Guitars behind backs, hips thrust forwards: these are the images that leap to mind. While down front, the most celebratory, cuddles-all-round circle pit ever seen breaks out under rainbow strobes. - Mike Diver for BBC Music
“Everyone 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 centerpiece Asunder. - Ally Carnwath/ The Guardian
“For fans of Fang Island’s debut album, Major has an awful lot to live up to. The record pioneered that original and infectious sound of theirs, often copied but never really bettered. Fang lsland is much loved by fans and critics alike, leaving many wondering if a follow up can live up to the hype.
Fang Island are a band who don’t seem to take such pressure or themselves too seriously, listing a few reasons why they decided to call the album Major as “it’s a ‘Valley girl’ colloquialism” and “Steely Dan’s Any Major Dude was in rotation a lot during the sessions”. They may not be flippant but it’s evident that they’re passionate about what they do and the finished product certainly speaks volumes of the amount of thought and dedication that must have gone into the album.
Musically, structurally and vocally speaking Major is better than its predecessor. The album kicks off with ‘Kindergarten’, a heartwarming pop number with the anthemic ‘Sisterly’ following suit. ‘Seek it Out’ is an unforgettable tune and possibly the best track on the album. The first half is relentlessly catchy, although the second fails to keep up the momentum. Aside from the awesome ‘Asunder’ the album loses its punch a little towards the end. ‘Regalia’ does manage to redeem matters and ‘Victorinian’ ends the album on a memorable note. As a whole, Major is so incredibly upbeat and catchy that even the rainiest, slowest Monday afternoon can’t take away from the feelings of joy and happiness that emanate from its splendid contents. - Niamh Hegarty for State
How deadly is Sargent House? the record label has steadily amassed a formidable roster of great bands, not least Rhode Island’s Fang Island, whose excellence - in the Bill & Ted sense – is unrivaled. Fang Island’s music is, as someone once said about something else, the most fun you can have with your mickey still in your pants. You may well have it out by the time their latest album Major ends. I know I did. Of course Major is more than just an excuse to hop your lad out… boobies too.
There are more socially acceptable reactions to these tunes though – try any variation or combination of these, alone or with friends: about forty solid minutes of air guitar; windmills; scissor kicks; knee-slides; high kicks; air-punches; chest bumps; high-fives – lots and lots of high-fives. Have you been trying to work up the courage to ask out the deli girl in your local Spar? Stick this on your headphones and leave, now. Thank Fang Island when you get your hole.
As the title suggests, everything about Major is BIG. Anthemic multi-layered guitar lines from the Fucking Champs school of riffage tumble ever-upwards and outwards with joyous abandon, as the band continue their attempt to create the sound of “everyone high-fiving everyone.” ‘Kindergarten’ is the relatively gentle opener, a piano-led tune where the guitars gradually rise and harmonise before early highlight ‘Sisterly’, an anthemic number with ear-gratifying wah guitar. Things progress most-excellently with reverby guitars begetting more reverby guitars. It’s all about the guitars, as on ‘Make Me’ where just as you think the guitar sound isn’t quite epic enough, they’ve read your mind and adjust accordingly.
‘Asunder’ kicks off with glitchy guitar noise over an almost-Motown beat before things move up a notch for the outro in all its power chord-y goodness. Grand finales are a Fang Island speciality – ‘Regalia’ begins in so-so fashion, until about a minute in when it suddenly metamorphoses into something else and we’re off again. There’s even a folk song to be had, if Angus Young played folk; ‘Dooney Rock’ is a stomper in the mould of Rory Gallagher’s ‘Going To My Home Town’ before the pace quickens in the sprint for the finish line. Instrumental rocker ‘Chompers’ features not only some cool drumming and 8-bit finger tapping, but also the greatest key change of all time.
Things don’t always come off as they should, but remember – Fang Island are mere men. ‘Chime Out’ slows things down, striving for grandiosity but finding it just out of reach before we go out with the chamber music of ‘Victorinian’, another momentum decelerator harking back to the piano intro of ‘Kindergarten’. The missteps however are minor, while Major is a record without a drop of cynicism – this is a collection of good-time tunes not a million miles away from the ecstatic exuberance of their eponymous debut. With it Fang Island are taking an ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it…just-make-it-even-more-awesome’ approach. They mostly succeed. - by Justin McDaid