Do-wap-de-do-be-do-wap! Weaooo… *lots of foot tapping here*
If you’re looking for the shortest, most comprehensive description of the feeling Save Ferris’s first full length album, It Means Everything
will leave you in after first listen, that was it. Fronted by the powerful vocals of the beautiful Monique Powell, this seven piece hailing from Orange County, California, is the antithesis of melodramatic teenybopper TV series the OC. It’s as if they sat down one day, and said, “F'uck this, lets shake off the shackles of decade of Grunge and bore – were gonna make a record that’s gonna leave you bouncing in your seat, dripping with infectious groove and written in the key of fun". And that is what they did.
"I only want to have a little fun..."
Described by many as ska-lite, it’s a fitting description of the music contained within the album. First and foremost though, it should be noted that this was an album created very much with a mainstream audience in mind, leaving open the debate by the genre Nazis – pop or ska? For now though, let’s go with the all encompassing “pop-ska-swing" and break it down from there.
Pop – With the longest song clocking in at just over four minutes, this album is choc-a-bloc filled with catchy radio friendly tunes, and it’s in no way a bad thing. Truth be told, any longer, and the songs might start to get a little boring - but we’ll get to that later. In the meantime; First item on the agenda today: Monique Powell. Without her, this band would be another bland garage band with little potential to go anywhere (As proved by the utterly boring Starsailor
which formed with her after the break up of the band). Although this gal ain’t no Christina Aguilera, Monique’s classicly trained voice is beautiful and elegant, powerful and rockin’, and fit the style of Save Ferris perfectly. While every other member of the band could be imagined as *ahem* expendable, it’s hard to imagine a Save Ferris without her.
Ska-Swing – Besides being probably the popiest third wave ska album since anything released by fellow ska buddies Reel Big Fish
(whom the band had toured with), this has many of the hallmarks of a ska-swing record as well. Fast, upstroke guitar strumming, strong walking bass lines, bursts of horns placed high in the mix and syncopated swing styled drumming (Superspy has got lots of fun swing grooves). All this combines to provide a funky mix of easy flowing songs which, on second listen, can become extremely addictive in a ‘oh no… another Save Ferris song stuck in my head’ way. Don’t be surprised to find yourself singing along with the upbeat music, slurring as you pretend to know the lyrics of the verses and toning it down when Monique holds out on those greatly done protracted notes.
If there was a single song that’s a highlight on this album, it’s their cover of “Come on Eileen" by Dexys Midnight Runners. Truly encompassing that everything Save Ferris’s music stands for, this is one of the most mind numbingly catchy tunes ever (The original was the biggest selling British single in 1982), and Ferris brings out everything good about it. From the opening horn lines to the ridiculously anthemic sing-along “Toora Loora Toora Loo-Rye-Aye, Ill live on the street forever…" this is as essential listen for anyone,
This album falls down rather drastically on its diversity points. Catchiness and funk can only take you so far, and it seems like this was exactly what It means everything
was centered upon. The average of three minutes for each song is great, because, as mentioned before, like so many pop albums, it can start to get to you once you realize many of the songs actually begin to start to sound the same with simplistic instrumentation after repeated listens. Sure, there are some great lyrical hooks like “Spam", “Under 21" and “Come on Eileen", but that’s about it. The rest of the lyrics focus on what seems to be the troubled life of a 20 something trying to find his/her way in life, confused about love and the like. Again, Pop.
And of course, there are the comparisons to No Doubt
. Released a year after the critically acclaimed Tragic Kingdom
a quick look an amazon.com will reveal some hot debate about the subject. While both are fronted by females and comprise of elements of ska, the truth is much of the similarity stops there. Tragic Kingdom
was a complex and diverse record and to many the epitome of No Doubt’s career. The same cannot be said of It Means Everything
, which is, and was always meant to be a fun, staright forward album for people to enjoy occasionally.
Overall this is a solid album and lots of fun to listen to, but ultimately, this is one that will be forgotten and lost in the mists of time, found in the basement of a distant relative too old to appreciate the teenage musings of a band that was once lots of fun. Even by today’s standards, the music already begins to sound slightly dated. For me, there a dabble into something that you probably wouldn’t hear to many other places - And it’s not a bad thing at all.
Come On Eileen
The World is New