Review Summary: Fact go back to basics...
As good as Fact’s self-titled debut was, the word I think about most when listening to it is “potential”. For as many disparate elements as the members of Fact threw into that album, the fundamental ideas behind Fact
were pretty simple: take a heaping handful of massive pop-punk hooks, and translate them through the technicality and aggression of a hardcore band. Fact
succeeded primarily because both of these elements were executed so well, and integrated so smoothly, switching from growling and thrashy riffs to massively catchy choruses at the drop of a hat. With some minor tweaks, Fact could have become a success story on the level of bands like Alexisonfire or Underoath. Instead, the band very quickly followed this success with In The Blink Of An Eye
, which pretty much everyone agreed was a regression in various ways, and the hype very rapidly disappeared from that point. Now, barely two years later (which, considering In The Blink Of An Eye
came out nine months after their s/t, is practically an eternity for these guys), Fact have regrouped with their third album Burundanga
, and have doubled down on the aspect that In The Blink
was so desperately needing (besides, you know, structure): those damn hooks.
And boy, do the guys in Fact know how to write a hook. That was basically the thing that separated Fact from the myriad of other post-hardcore bands that tried to incorporate elements of pop into their music: they actually had the technical ability and songwriting panache to pull off such sections without making them eyeroll-worthy (to put it another way, there’s a pretty fair margin between A Day To Remember and Fact). That remains true with Burundanga
, and indeed seems to be the focus of the Fact Restoration Effort; just about every song here is anchored by a massive hook of some kind, and by God, it actually works. Few are as good at building on hooks until they become positively massive as Fact, as they prove on the album’s clear highlights “Crying”, “Melt”, and “Polyrhythm Winter”. “Crying” and “Melt” are the closest we get to material that could have come from the band’s s/t, with their brilliantly intertwining riffs perfectly complimenting two of the album’s best choruses. “Polyrhythm Winter” builds on its central group of hooks gradually, before exploding in a finale that counts as one of the album’s finest singular moments. Even the case of tracks like lead single “FOSS” ad “Eighty Six”, what would otherwise be pretty bog-standard verses are elevated by their earworm-y choruses.
Sadly, this catchiness comes at a price, and it’s a steep one; the creativity and technicality of the riffs. The only thing Fact
had more of than hooks was great guitar lines, with nearly every song crammed with at least 2 or 3 memorable riffs. Here, we still get those same riffs, but they’re much more scarce, with each song relying more on chord transitions that intricate leads. For some, this is going to be a dealbreaker, as Fact’s technical abilities compared to their contemporaries has always been a big selling point for the band, and to see this element neglected here is certainly disappointing. We still get some of the technicality we expect from Fact, especially drummer Eiji Matsumoto’s continued dominance of his kit (indeed, his drumming has long been the secret cornerstone that allow Fact to maintain the pace that defines their style). Still, it feels like Fact is holding back on truly blowing our minds, relying on energy to substitute for creativity in several cases.
Honestly, at the end of the day it’s just good to see Fact sounding so revitalized again. Even if Burundanga
is ultimately a pretty safe album, it still has enough of the traces of brilliance that shone through their debut to keep it from being a complete dumbing down of their style (it’s encouraging and probably telling that “Pink Rolex”, their brief flirt with incorporating dubstep, is as good as it is, considering how cheesy that notion is). If Fact can keep the hooks and start pushing forward their music from there, we might even actually see the potential of their debut finally realized. And hey, if we can’t get a revolutionary album out of these guys, a bunch of really catchy tunes sounds fine to me.