Review Summary: Geek-rockers provide potentially the feel-good album of the year, however don't expect a pop-rock masterpiece.
Everyone's favourite geek-rockers are back, finally with a full-length release in the form of 'KABOOM!'. I Fight Dragons have gained popularity amongst a niche audience for their combination of catchy pop-punk with pure geek glory, inserting humorous memorable lyrics and 8-bit chiptune sounds. Their previous EP's, 'Cool Is Just A Number' and 'Welcome to the Breakdown' weren't as awesome as they could have been (don't get me wrong, they were still good), so how does their debut LP shape up? It's better, but only marginally.
One thing you'll be able to notice from the title track of the album is that I Fight Dragons have taken a much poppier approach to 'KABOOM!'. Sure, they've always been pop-rock, but 'KABOOM!' takes it to whole new levels. It's not necessarily a bad thing, as the track features an effective hook that will have the chorus stuck in your head for hours. It would be pretty straight-forward, until the gimmick enters...
The chiptuning has been implemented well into the songs on 'KABOOM!'. It is arguable if it is a necessity; it seems as if the music could have just been produced without the 8-bit sounds and still be a good song, however the nostalgia-triggering bleeps and bloops provide an extra layer of fun to I Fight Dragons' songs.
And that's what makes I Fight Dragons so great. Their songs are incredibly fun to listen to, and most can be considered feel-good tunes. Most songs have a highly cheery nature, and some even succeeded at putting a smile on my face. It's rare that music alters emotions quite this much, but there's an overwhelming sense of happiness in I Fight Dragons songs that is truly undeniable.
On the other hand, there's the geeky love-ballad track in the form of 'With You'. This is one of the highlights off the album, simply as it shows a completely different approach to the band's songwriting. Some fans may argue that it isn't quite as good as the 'Welcome to the Breakdown' version (musically, it has a few minor differences, however it has a different female vocalist), but, here on 'KABOOM!' it's still a welcome joy.
So where does 'KABOOM!' begin to waver? In the world of pop-rock, it is almost essential that the songs are as catchy as possible. Although there are some great successes in that field on here (lead single 'The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth'), there are some which don't quite reach the level they should be at - 'Crazie$' is worth a few fun listens, but the novelty eventually wears off and it proves to be not at all memorable.
'KABOOM!' is in no way a bad album. It just doesn't quite live up to what it could be. It's a sugary upbeat experience that will please both the geeky target audience and just pop-rock fans in general, but falls short in some areas more than others. Still definetly worth a listen though, but upon revisiting expect some tracks to have lost their novelty.