Review Summary: Simply put this is a better version of The Klaxons’ “Myths Of The Near Future” and about as good as nu-rave can get.
Ah nu-rave, the recent ‘trendy’ and often overlooked genre, famed for the energetic fusion of electronics with indie rock and the psychedelic visual displays that accompany it, more often than not involving glow sticks. As of now, the only real bands to have made an impact with nu-rave music are The Klaxons and Hadouken! but not any more. Enter Late Of The Pier, a four piece act hailing from Nottinghamshire, England. Their sound blends typical nu-rave elements with funk rock, and even some progressive rock elements, to create a raw, unique mesh of nu-rave bliss.
To be honest, the premise behind this album just should not work. Giving four boys, barely men, free roam of four different recording studios to mash their music up as much as they like should result in a ridiculous mess. The Klaxons' were outrageous enough but this is like “Myths Of The Near Future” on LSD, and it’s good. The album starts with an instrumental intro in “Hot Tent Blues”, immediately introducing the audience with a taste of what’s to come. The heavy bass lines in this track will instantaneously either delight or disgust and although a simple intro, it provides all the necessary attributes for a potential listener to tell whether they will enjoy the album or not.
The influence of The Klaxons’ debut is not to be underestimated here. Although Late of the Pier are decidedly better than the Klaxons, without “Myths Of The Near Future” there would be no “Fantasy Black Channel”. In nearly every track, you can pick out influences from said album, whether it is the huge beats found on songs such as “Space And The Woods” and “Gravity’s Rainbow” respectively, or the use of bass centric riffs in many of the songs. However fine the line between influence and plagiarism, the boys from Late Of The Pier definitely stay grounded in the influence zone, a good omen, considering the mad rush of seemingly pointless lawsuits in the music business recently.
The word mellow appears not to feature in the bands vocabulary, as every song on Fantasy Black Channel is infused with heavy techno beats designed to get even the dreariest of people on their feet. Catchy rhythms are prominent, such as the beautiful, harpsichord driven rhythm to instrumental “VW” and the eloquent if slightly extravagant music in “Mad Dogs And Englishmen” which finishes with an arrestingly excellent funk beat before flowing seamlessly into album highlight “Bathroom Gurgle” which is the epitome of everything Late Of The Pier try to achieve with this album. A great vocal performance aids the immensely catchy bass line, which drives the song forward to the breathtakingly simple, yet enormously enjoyable chorus.
However don’t make any premature assumptions on this album as unfortunately it is not all this good. Although clearly there are moments of brilliance, at times the song writing can get lazy, none more so that on the tedious “Heartbeat” which is fundamentally just the same forty seconds of music repeated throughout. Although having an interesting outro involving some very tight guitar work, it is far too short to give any saving grace to the track or prevent it being the weak point of the album. Similarly the dreary and overly long “The Enemy Are Our Future” does nothing to enhance the album, instead just plodding along at an infuriating middle-ground pace.
This album is a mixed bag of brilliant, infectiously fun, hyperactive music and lazy monotony. At there best, this band really shine above and beyond any of their contemporaries, however they sometimes lack a sense of drive and focus. Despite its obvious flaws, Fantasy Black Channel is much more hit than miss, and offers a refreshing, unique take on today’s music scene. Evidently Late of the Pier are a band for the future, but with this debut release under their belts, they could quite literally take the world by storm, all they need to do now is avoid the dreaded ‘disappointing second album syndrome’ that befalls so many promising British bands, and the sky is their limit.
- Space And The Woods
- Bears Are Coming
- Mad Dogs And Englishmen
- Bathroom Gurgle
Overall 4.0 Excellent