Entertainment Music

Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Fang Island, 'Major'

*** (out of 4)

When Fang Island put out its self-titled debut in 2010, the band’s MySpace described the music as “everyone high-fiving each other.” Some critics joked instead that the album's piled-on guitar riffs sounded more like a collection of “SportsCenter” theme music, but the point was the same: If you were to imagine music that sounded “awesome, bro” the result would pretty much be Fang Island and its songwriting technique of cramming as many guitar solos into a single song as possible.

Two years later, things are a little different – and not just in the sense that even bands have stopped using MySpace. Fang Island's follow-up effort, “Major,” is still positive, life-affirming music heavy on guitar solos, but it's a shade less bombastic than its predecessor. The vocals are a little more prominent, and the album begins and ends with lighter-waving piano anthems reminiscent of Ben Folds when he still used guitars. You're more likely to find yourself singing along to a chorus than a guitar riff, which is, in this case, kind of a shame. Not only are the lyrics fairly bland, but where Fang Island really excels is in finding and playing around with memorable guitar parts.

The group does this to great effect on the strong middle sequence of “Make Me,” “Never Understand,” and “Asunder,” but when its instincts go awry, Fang Island settles into one math-rock groove and bludgeons it for far too long, creating music that makes for better “Guitar Hero” levels than actual songs. The result is an album that can be uneven in the multiple ways it chooses to make music that sounds awesome. But don't worry, bro – it's still pretty sweet.

Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    Bold predictions for Lolla 2015

    The Lolla schedule is sort of like the NCAA tournament: there are millions of possible combinations, and it’s anyone’s guess what the winning picks will be. With that in mind, we make some bold predictions about how this year’s fest (returning to Grant Park Fri.-Sun.) will turn out. Breakout artist...

  • 2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    2010 killing of Chicago cop detailed at trial; man claims self-defense

    The man on trial in the killing of Chicago police Officer Thor Soderberg hated police and surprised the officer as he changed out of his uniform at shift end and placed his duty belt down, a Cook County prosecutor alleged Monday.

  • Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Aldermen to hold hearing on untested rape kits

    Chicago aldermen on Monday called on police officials to provide information on how quickly rape kits are being tested by the state crime lab, part of a largely symbolic effort to determine whether a large backlog is hampering work to apprehend rapists.

  • Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    Alderman's 'Chi-raq' criticism falls flat

    A South Side alderman's effort to tweak filmmaker Spike Lee for using "Chi-raq" as the title for a movie about Chicago violence fell flat Monday with his colleagues.

  • ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    ComEd to hold energy fairs to help low-income customers

    Commonwealth Edison will hold energy fairs at satellite locations across the region Monday in order to get money to thousands of people struggling to pay their electricity bills in northern Illinois.

  • PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    PAWS Chicago "Muttshots!"

    These adorable pups are on the loose looking for a place to call home. They have a warrant out for their arrest. Their crime? Being irresistibly cute and cuddly. If you're interested in adopting any of these dogs, please visit www.pawschicago.org for more information.