Review Summary: An incredibly stellar album that showcases the band confident of making their very own blend of desert rock that both respects its blues roots and abounds with creativity.
Fatso Jetson, led by guitar virtuoso and singer Mario Lalli, is one of these bands that go under the radar way too often. While they might not be widely acclaimed or popular, the influence of their music on the current rock scene is not easy to dismiss. Their style comes as an instantly recognizable fusion of stoner rock, blues and surf. Focusing their music on permeating groovy guitar riffs and swinging rhythm section, they tend to experiment a great deal with dynamics implementing instruments such as harmonica, saxophone and organs into their variety of desert rock. This, along with hilarious and often deliciously abstract lyrics, successfully differentiates Fatso Jetson from their contemporaries.
Their first album in eight years, "Archaic Volumes" can be described as a natural extension to its strikingly consistent predecessor, "Cruel And Delicious" (2002). This record managed to be an excellent mixture of the band's numerous influences marked by top-notch songwriting. While there are several tracks on "Archaic Volumes" that are not quite on par with the content of this release, the band still follows the same direction providing compositions that are equally infectious, atmospheric and complex in their construction. The opener "Jet Black Boogie" is an excellent example of the aforementioned type of playing. This song bursts with tight guitarwork interwoven with bluesy harmonica sections and an appropriately spaced-out chorus to truly amazing effect.
Another revelation is an admirably swingy monster of a track "Golden Age Of Cell Block Slang" in which the band effectively adds the brass section and saxophone solos into their trademark groove. Without doubt, it's a worthy contender for the most danceable rock song of the year. The more laid-back approach to songwriting familiar from previous releases is continued on such tracks as lyrically-subversive "Play Dead" and surf-laden "Black Road Tar" which, as advances, benefits from the superbly harmonized sax. An extensive use of this instrument is characteristic to the whole album as very talented Vincent Meghrouni (harmonica, saxophone) became a rightful member of the band.
Moreover, Fatso Jetson are known for their instrumentals that were frequently the highlights of their previous albums. Mellow "Jolting Tales Of Tension" feels curious, yet it fades compared with other more dynamic tracks. In contrast, "Here Lies Boomer's Panic" incorporates hardcore punk of Black Flag as well as non-linear progressions into a gripping guitar-saxophone interplay. The powerful songcraft is even more evident in the psychedelic ballad "Monoxide Dreams" that contains wonderful existential lyrics.
"Archaic Volumes" may not be anything particularly novel for the longtime fans of Fatso Jetson, yet the album superbly captures the desert sound along with a wide range of influences the band is associated with. It's also an incredibly stellar record that showcases the band confident of making their very own blend of music that both respects its blues roots and abounds with creativity.
Standout tracks: Jet Black Boogie, Golden Age Of Cell Block Slang, Here Lies Boomer's Panic, Monoxide Dreams.