To begin, the vinyl player crackles. Synths mixed with electric guitar crescendo tonally but haphazardly in fanfare, only to disappear in favor of vocal harmonies. Majestic, folk-like vocals set the stage. Triumph and pride resonates with the opening lines, “They are all within my reach/ they are free.” But enough of that little prelude -- the hi-hat sets the beat and away we leap into a frenzy of jubilation with Providence rock band Fang Island.
Combining the production quality of stereo blistering pop rock and pleasant choral nature of folk vocals, Fang Island achieves a brilliant juxtaposition. Guitars power through pop riffs and massive hits, changing motifs every few bars but always staying focused. Even at their heaviest moments (the instrumental “Careful Crossers” and progressive “The Illinois” are two of the heaviest tracks on the record), the band rubs shoulders more with progressive classic rock than metal. Incredibly melodic guitar riffs emerge throughout the whole album to keep the complexity interesting and synthesized arpeggios cameo during vocal parts too add epic proportions. And on only one track do they stray completely away from invoking the obligatory choir-like vocals.
On the oddball tracks of the album, a few more influences appear. The pleasantly awkward rhythmic nature of the synth and distorted guitar hits with distant overlaid vocals in “Life Coach” brings Animal Collective to mind -- up until the exaggeratedly enormous drum fills. In “Treeton”, two vocal parts intertwine to create a spontaneous and hectic feel, leaning toward more psychedelic influences. Regardless of these minute ventures, low-pitched guitar reverbs and pounding percussion always journey the listener from wacky instants to a more controlled and driving band for the rest of the album.
Incorporating heavy rock, psychedelic and folk all with superbly celebratory and melodic flavor, Fang Island’s debut full length has potential for a serious following. The band that describes their sound as “everyone high-fiving everyone” is spot on in their self-reflection. This record not only invokes feelings of glory but caters to all those who look forward to rocking out.