Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Review: Late Of The Pier - Fantasy Black Channel (* * * *)

British quartet Late Of The Pier released their debut album, Fantasy Black Channel, overseas last year to critical acclaim and have recently brought the record to the U.S., though I've heard little about it, press wise. The band, comprised of Samuel Eastgate, Andrew Faley, Sam Potter, and Ross Dawson are out to have a good time and to ensure that you do the same. Their ultra-hyper blend of electronica and rock make for an invigorating collection of danceable, in-your-face tunes that is fresh and undeniably fun.

After a brief, instrumental opener, Fantasy Black Channel, wastes no time in taking care of business with a white-hot guitar riff over a groovy bass line on "Broken" that informs you the party has arrived. The dance-rock sound continues into the following track, "Space and the Woods," a synth-heavy tune that combines techno and rock seamlessly. Other highlights include the messy, avant-garde "The Bears Are Coming" and the epic, soaring "Focker." Part of what makes 'Fantasy' such a great listen is Late Of The Pier's willingness to take chances and push boundaries. Layers of sound; guitars, keys, synths, etc. fill every song to the brim while generally managing to keep the music from feeling overwrought or unecessarily noisy.

For fans of the dance-rock genre, or anybody looking for something for a good soundtrack for a night out, Late Of The Pier has created an album you won't want to miss.


Seth said...

It seems these guys have come out of nowhere considering I've had trouble finding some informative reading material about the group. Their website isn’t that great. I did, however, see Erol Alkan produced the album, supposedly a notable DJ out of London. I suppose that has to be some kind of representation for promise.

Exploring other reviews, I've seen many comparisons to Gary Numan and Frank Zappa, but I can neither agree nor disagree since I've never listened to either of those two much. Fantasy Black Channel is very quirky, poppy, electronic, and full of synth. Simply put, it's party music. Immediately there are similarities to Franz Ferdinand and The Killers, two groups who've successfully hit the pop scene. I'm not sure Late of the Pier will reach that status, though. There seems to be too many "been done before" aspects.

Ever since Death From Above 1979 disbanded, I've been searching high and low for a band able enough to replicate You're A Woman, I'm A Machine. No, Late of the Pier can't do that, but a few of their songs are fairly akin - "Space & The Woods" and "Focker." The beats and guitar (or bass, whatever it is) are awesome. Going back to the producer, Erol Alkan, it may be worth knowing in the past he remixed music from both Death From Above 1979 and Franz Ferdinand. It's just an interesting tidbit. Also, at times I think of David Bowie and subsequently Flight of the Conchords mocking him.

Fantasy Black Channel isn't that bad despite all the rehashing, even if the flow of the album is all over the place. Amidst the rocking and dancing there's stuff that could be music in an NES game ("Random Firl," have a listen and tell me otherwise). All things considered, this debut is decent.