Review Summary: FACT flaunt their consistency.
Japanese mainstays FACT are a band who simply refuse to be pigeon-holed. They cover a lot of ground with their broad, experimental music, and they practically dare you to try and place them into just one genre as they flit between styles, transcending classification. In their career so far, we've seen them successfully navigate everything from pop punk to alt rock to post hardcore, usually combining these elements within each album, and occasionally even within single songs. Bucking the trend somewhat, Witness
is the heaviest, most straightforward album they've produced in years, and it’s the closest they've come to replicating the fundamental post hardcore of their debut. That said, this is still FACT after all, and there’s still enough variation to suggest that they haven’t abandoned the genre blending style that’s made them so endearing just yet.
The tongue in cheek ‘Ape’ is a whimsical, catchy romp which displays all the quirkiness we’ve come to associate with the Tokyo rockers, as lead singer Hiro Onose frantically spits ‘God sent us up from the animals/but hey I don’t know what it means/I’m just a monkey swinging
’ before launching into typically rapid verses and a trademark catchy chorus. It’s the best kind of kitsch, and you get the feeling that the band know full well how ludicrous the intro to the song is, but they also know that on your first listen through that it’s this track that will catch your ear and potentially snare you for a return visit. The electronic soaked ‘2-1’ acts as the album’s most unconventional track, and whilst displaying their penchant for the off the wall it would have been much more effective had it been cut to roughly half of its 3 minute length. Uncharacteristically, this is where the surprises end, and the album’s strongest cuts betray the band’s history by being unremarkably normal.
Title track ‘Witness’ and ‘Miles Away’ are among the strongest songs on offer, although throughout Witness
the band continue to show their usual consistency by rarely writing a bad song. ‘Witness’ features one of the most memorable riffs on offer, and benefits from an unexpected bridge halfway through the song which first acts as a reprieve, then builds once again to a final, effective chorus. ‘Miles Away’ features the album’s most infectious chorus and it also acts as a feel good centrepiece to the album; ‘Hold on!/There’s only right here, there’s only right now/There’s only this moment.
’ It certainly isn’t deep, but FACT’s music has never pretended to be, and as sing-a-long choruses go it’s one of the most instantly gratifying that you’re likely to find.
Despite the noticeably heavier approach FACT take with Witness
, it’s still very much a FACT album at heart. They still supply the catchy choruses we’re accustomed to by the bucket load, they still deviate from the norm with their signature medley of all things rock, and there’s still enough fun here to assure us that the members of FACT are still enjoying their craft. The band have carved out a consistent groove for themselves and Witness
does little to threaten that status quo, but there’s really no shame in that when you make music as head bobbing and enjoyable as they do.