Review Summary: Wow.
It's hardly a secret that most bands on the planet react with a mixture of despair and disgust when you push the music they make under headings and labels and genres
, but it's clearly necessary to some extent to allow comparisons and easier access to similar artists and records. There is, however, one way of ensuring you're never categorised successfully and consistently, and it's an art that Japanese outfit FACT seem to have perfected. Here they exist under the 'rock' moniker, and it's difficult to argue with that assertion, but they could just as easily sneak under metal, sit pretty under punk, snatch a sub-genre of pop or be called alternative. They're probably not a hip-hop group...yet.
It is, however, not beyond the realms of possibility when you get five tracks into their self-titled debut that a guest appearance from Kanye West might show up in any one of the eclectic instrumental sections. Playing a kind of post-hardcore with metalcore and thrash influence, they successfully and frequently incorporate electronic aesthetics, pop melodies and huge choruses as a part of their core sound. The result is huge; though the songs are rarely more than 3 minutes long, they come out euphoric, anthemic, and at a blistering pace. The vocals are almost all delivered in English, and only at one point (45days) does it become apparent that it's not the band's native language; on Stretch My Arms, Takahiro pulls off his best pop-punk impression. Elsewhere, there are aggressive growls, emo-derived screams, vocoder-tinged hooks...and that's just the vocals.
The influences that shape FACT are at once blatant and seamless; every song seems to fuse a combination of insanely impressive guitar, tight and ferocious drumming, and some kind of quirk or nuance which, instead of sticking out like a sore thumb, attaches itself to every section of the track's structure in a catsuit-like manner. There's perhaps no better example of this than Why..., which harbours some fantastic drum fills, a stunning intro guitar line, acoustic guitars, and a haunting, growled interlude over crushing riffs. But, although it's not quite seamless, it doesn't play
like that mash-up of different techniques I just listed. It's fun and diverse, but it's not some monstrous, mutated beast. It's a carefully- and well-worked hybrid. There are a few moments on FACT that do stand out as overly obvious statements of direction: the 25-second thrashfest that is Chain, for example, or the surprising (but still brilliantly-executed) dance-pop-rock that is 1-2. But these moments are few and far between when placed alongside the dynamic, carefree and breathless nature of the record as a whole.
For all its myriad leaps into seemingly distant genres and styles, though, FACT is at heart a pop album. As long as they're capable of getting past the occasional harsh vocal or tempo change, even the more adventurous mainstream radio listener would find more than half of this record incredibly endearing. Lead single A Fact Of Life puts Hellogoodbye to shame with its synth-pop opening, and the hooks through all 50 minutes are tirelessly dance-worthy and passionately youthful. Who cares what the hell this is? The truth is that I have no idea how to label it and I don't think I want to. It's quick, catchy, technically superb and packed full of energy, twists and turns. Whatever you call it, FACT are one of the most exciting and fresh bands I've heard in a long, long time. There's no re-treading of old ground, no apologetic conformity to a scene or genre and no lack of confidence across 50 minutes that span a range of genres you probably never thought you'd hear in the same place. Wherever your musical exploration usually takes you, I can guarantee that FACT's self-titled debut album is not a carbon-copy of anything you've heard before. That alone makes it worth your attention; the fact that it's this good should seal the deal a million times over.