Fang Island – Major album review

The Brooklyn-based rock band Fang Island captured an infectious sound on its self-title LP in 2010, and its follow up album, Major, demonstrates the band’s signature positive vibes, this time conveyed through lyrics rather than solely with its unorthodox instrumentation. Hyped on the same energy found in kindergarten classrooms, the trio is as doe-eyed as ever, and happily so with lyrics that shout “I hope I never understand.” Reveling in the unknown, Fang Island offers its buoyant tone on Major, but don’t let the power piano opener of “Kindergarten” fool you. The lead-in track sets a poppy tone for the album, but from then on the rest of Major is in large part straightforward, though at times sludgy, indie rock.

The airiness of “Make Me” is reminiscent of the band’s debut album, with its mid-tempo catchy melodies and guitar harmonies, but the architecture of the track is built thoughtfully. Though the song isn’t built grand enough to peak through onto the skyline of the entire album as a memorable moment, its telling of Fang Island’s evolution that its best tracks on Major veer toward the metal spectrum of music.

The grinding riff that kick starts and weaves through “Seek It Out” brings metal tones into the guitar-driven music, much like “Dooney Rock,” which demonstrates a southern/speed metal element complete with furious guitar picking and clapping hands. “Chompers” is another wonderfully constructed song, and this one, unlike “Make Me,” stands as the grandest silhouette on the horizon with its obsessively technical guitar work. The instrumentation is well executed that the lack of lyrics in the track is hardly noticeable.

Maybe its ironic that the album’s best track is instrumental since I praised Fang Island for translating its cheery attitude through its lyrics this time around. However, I think this track, and the two closing tracks that follow, prove the band is transitioning. “Chime Out” and the album’s closer “Victorian,” moves away from ignorant bliss and towards focused emotion, hinting to me that the band’s next effort might stray from its effective but seasoned party pop/rock sound.

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