There are usually two schools of thought when it comes to the issue of music consumption: do you want to turn your brain off or turn it on?
The great thing about Major, the new album by Fang Island, from the Sargent House record label, is you don’t have to choose, as it does both to you at the same time. If you’re not familiar with them yet, the New York-based indie rock group, currently compromised of members Jason Bartell, Chris Georges, Marc St. Sauveur, weave progressive rock and indie pop together in an audio experience that is both deeply meticulous to deconstruct yet also instantly infectious, which is always a hallmark of any great album.
“Kindergarten” is the opening track off of Major and without delving even further into hyperbole, it comes off like the coolest Sunday mass you’ve ever attended, replete with chorus, electro-organs, and sonic high-fives for those who want them. On a side-note, though I’m pretty sure that I learned the real lessons of life in my undergrad days, I’ll go along with the song’s epic mantra, “Everything I learned / I learned from Kindergarten.”
Epic mantras and explosions of sound have been Fang Island’s bread and butter since their 2010 debut; that trend continues throughout much of Major’s body of work, especially in follow-up tracks like “Sisterly” and “Seek It Out.” Bartell and company are also capable of channeling their inner Yeasayer on funkier tracks like “Make Me” and “Never Understand” which (momentarily) eschew gyrating your head up and down in favor of gyrating your hips (or shoulders if you prefer) side to side. As I segue from track to track, I’m astonished at the relentless energy that Major presents, which I think is a direct result of the group’s intermingling of indie pop’s ability to cut straight to the heart with prog rock’s ability to think outside the usual verse-chorus-verse structure. In other words, it is quite obvious as you read this that I’m completely geeking out on this album proper.
Fang Island - Seek it Out
I usually fully expect an album like this to lose momentum at some point; but not to fret, the first half of “Dooney Rock” remedies that swiftly with a rousing folk instrumental that crescendos into, believe it or not, another crescendo of a completely different genre. Flogging Molly fans should get a kick out of this track. Truthfully, the album does run on fumes for the last couple of songs (“Chompers,” “Chime Out” come to mind), but to be a tad biased, a Fang Island on fumes is more rousing than most other band’s A-game. The closing track, “Victorinan,” exhilarates with some of the most enjoyable piano arpeggios you’ll find all year, genre or otherwise. It shines with an energy that is more fun to keep bottled in rather than release unlike the previously mentioned tracks.
Whether you are the most jaded of music aficionados, or the most casual of radio listeners, or even just stumbled here after mistyping “Ang Island” in Google, do yourself a favor and find a copy of Fang Island’s Major. It is, in my humble opinion, one of the most rewarding albums I’ve listened to since The Joy Formidable’s Big Roar album. Currently, they’re touring the US in support of their newest release, so for information on tour dates, band photos, and other Fang Island-related content, either consult either their Sargent House page or their Facebook page. In the meantime, check out the album’s current single, “Seek It Out” now: