Fang Island



by Beauville88 USER (84 Reviews)
July 13th, 2012 | 22 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In which Fang Island loses some of their bite.

Take ‘em or leave ‘em, Fang Island certainly has carved their way into their own unique niche: Feel-good, uplifting, rosy rock songs don’t come by that often, and the band has certainly crafted their own unique sound. After turning heads with their first self-titled LP, the band has since gone through some line-up changes and are back with their sophomore, entitled Major. Does the band continue the party on their second full-length effort, or are there some hiccups along the way?

Leading up to the release, the band offered several songs for previewing purposes, and they turned out to be some of the most exciting, well-crafted pieces of the album. Upon first listen, one will notice a large, drastic change from the band’s debut, and that is the vocals have changed substantially: not only are they more present in the song structure and the overall sound, but they are also, well, coherent. “Asunder” perfectly portrays this new sound, as the band beautifully progresses their edgy rock riffs under more of a traditional, vocal-based structure. “Sisterly” offers some choppier, almost bluesy rock-a-billy guitar riffs, complete with an abundance of wah-wah, and proves to be one of the catchier songs of the album. Lastly, “Seek It Out” is the heaviest hitter of the album, featuring pounding guitar riffs and catchy choruses.

Beyond this trio, however, the album really suffers from a lack of focus and quality. While intro “Kindergarten” and outro “Victorinian” offer two terrific, stripped-down, piano-driven slices, and “Chompers” offers a nice fast paced outing, nothing else here really captures the cartwheels-with-fireworks-in-the-background, winning-the-lottery type of euphoria that was so prominent on their self-titled. All of “Make Me”, “Never Understand”, “Regalia” and “Chime Out” drags on too long with some very uninteresting riffs and vocal lines, feeling more like demo tracks than full-fledged efforts. Also, “Dooney Rock” is the band’s attempt at mixing a country hoedown with speed metal riffs, but it just comes off as being unfocused. On these songs, the band never really attempts to create something catchy, unique or memorable, and they really don’t give you a reason to go back to listen to them.

But while the album seems to be split 50/50 with some great songs and some boring songs, I feel what is really missing from Major is the originality and good times that made their self-titled such fun to listen to. For starters, the powerful, quasi-gibberish gang vocals that made their first album so one-of-a-kind is almost completely absent from Major, and I don’t really understand why, since it was such a big element in the band’s original feel-good sound. Second, and certainly less important, is the fact that the band has gone from a tri-guitar attack on their self-titled to a more common dual-guitar attack on Major, and I can’t shake the feeling we’re missing out on some more unique third harmony and guitar parts that, again, made the self-titled so appealing.

So is Major a success? While the sophomore effort certainly does have plenty of bright spots and some of the best songs the band has written, I can’t help but feel that band has taken a step back in terms of creativity, and instead of evolving their creative, unique sound from their first album, really stripped down this time around. I’m sure fans of the band will be split on the preference between the old and the new, but the good news is that, despite your preferences, there is still some terrific songs on Major to be heard, and one can only hope that the band continues on finding more ways to make their sound more entertaining in the future.

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user ratings (72)
other reviews of this album
Jade Eveline STAFF (3)
Your favorite energetic indie act picks decaf this time around, with disappointing results....

Paul Golden (3.5)
High-five hangover....

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 12th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0


Staff Reviewer
July 12th 2012


superb review

Digging: Woods - City Sun Eater In The River Of Light

July 12th 2012


yeah awesome review
I have no trouble taking your word for the quality or characteristics of this album, so I'll probably get around to it eventually but am in no hurry

July 13th 2012


Is any of this as boner-inducing as Welcome Wagon?

July 13th 2012


no, chompers would be close to a welcome wagon type song though. its all instrumental and pretty awesome. but as a whole i agree with reviewer in that you can feel the third guitar is missing and group vocals would be better.

July 13th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

noooooooooooooo say it aint so

July 13th 2012


your drug is a heartbreaker

July 13th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

you pretty much wrote exactly what I was thinking

Digging: John Cale - Paris 1919

July 13th 2012


The first two tracks are the worst on the album. Digging the rest though

Digging: Former Ghosts - Fleurs

July 13th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with this review very much. This is not the same album as the self-titled, and it's not as good, in my opinion. That being said, the music that Fang Island have released, including Day of the Great Leap, and especially Sky Gardens EP , is so goddamn special to me, that I can't bring myself to give this album anything less than a 5. The riffs are still insanely infectious, the songs are bristling with energy, and, I think the lead singer/guitarist, Jason Bartell captured the spirit of this album best in his interview with NPR: "I think we are trying to dig past that surface-level positivity, and trying to mine a sort of core positivity that I feel is inherent in music itself." I definitely understand, at some intuitive level, what he means. And, having seen the Fang Daddies play live twice--once this past April--standing directly in front of them and high-fiving them throughout the set, watching them jam through "Sisterly," "Never Understand," "Seek it Out," and finally "Asunder," I witnessed first-hand the raw energy that drives this album. This is easily one of my favorite bands making music right now, and I cannot stop listening to MAJOR. Think of the music this way: don't think about it. Just feel the positive energy, smile, and nod your head. Also, if any of you ever have the chance to catch these guys live, please do yourself a huge favor and go see them. I promise you that you won't regret it. m/

July 15th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

These guys are opening for The Hold Steady this Thursday

It will be the 3rd time I've seen them, all 3 times they've been the opening act

July 20th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

really good review. still haven't heard this but I hope it's better than you say. I loved the first one.

Contributing Reviewer
July 20th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

I wasn't too big on the first one but I really like this. It does seem like the type of record that'll wear off after time, though.

July 20th 2012


Album Rating: 3.5

fucking loving this. The opener with the piano works so well

July 29th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

this review is right on the money, and well written. my personal review would have had a much more disappointed tone. this stuff is all great and such, but this album loses fang island some MAJOR originality points. in general i'm not even excited about it anymore :-(

August 15th 2012


better than the s/t.

September 7th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

loved the first album but this just didn't do it for me. some good stuff but not as consistent.

September 12th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

Victorinian is high on my favs list for this album. right there with chompers. i hope FI redeem themselves on their next album.

September 26th 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

This wore off me. Self-titled is just too happy and incredible; it far outshines this. The buzz has faded.

September 28th 2012


how does regalia drag at all that's easily the best song here besides victorinian

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