Album review: Fang Island, 'Major'
Fang Island, 'Major' (July 23, 2012)
When Fang Island put out its self-titled debut in 2010, the band’s MySpace described the music as “everyone high-fiving each other.” Some critics joked instead that the album's piled-on guitar riffs sounded more like a collection of “SportsCenter” theme music, but the point was the same: If you were to imagine music that sounded “awesome, bro” the result would pretty much be Fang Island and its songwriting technique of cramming as many guitar solos into a single song as possible.
Two years later, things are a little different – and not just in the sense that even bands have stopped using MySpace. Fang Island's follow-up effort, “Major,” is still positive, life-affirming music heavy on guitar solos, but it's a shade less bombastic than its predecessor. The vocals are a little more prominent, and the album begins and ends with lighter-waving piano anthems reminiscent of Ben Folds when he still used guitars. You're more likely to find yourself singing along to a chorus than a guitar riff, which is, in this case, kind of a shame. Not only are the lyrics fairly bland, but where Fang Island really excels is in finding and playing around with memorable guitar parts.
The group does this to great effect on the strong middle sequence of “Make Me,” “Never Understand,” and “Asunder,” but when its instincts go awry, Fang Island settles into one math-rock groove and bludgeons it for far too long, creating music that makes for better “Guitar Hero” levels than actual songs. The result is an album that can be uneven in the multiple ways it chooses to make music that sounds awesome. But don't worry, bro – it's still pretty sweet.
Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic