Review: Fangclub – Fangclub

Having made some waves over the past 18 months with both their ‘Bullet Head’ and ‘Coma Happy’ EP’s garnering plenty of praise from various notable sources including us, Dublin’s Fangclub have shown their ability to add a modern pop sheen to ’90s alt-rock and grunge. It’s an approach which continues on their eponymous debut album.

This may sound like an eye-rolling cliché, but for the most part, the songs pack enough punch to keep the listener intrigued, even if there isn’t anything particularly original about them. The album works best when it leans on Fangclub’s pop songwriting strengths, for example with the bouncy riffing and pop-punk chorus of ‘Lightning’ – it may be formulaic, but it’s energetic and fun. The band make a wise decision to include EP highlight ‘Dreamcatcher’ on the album, its hazy atmosphere, sweet-sounding vocal hook and irresistible lead riff being just as enjoyable here.

The heavier tracks on ‘Fangclub’ aren’t as well executed, with the heavier guitar-work on ‘Bullet Head’ sounding out of place, and ‘Role Models’ sounding a bit like a bad B-side from Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’. ‘Better to Forget’ has a boring riff and a nothing chorus, as well as an apt title.

Thankfully, the bulk of the album is made up of upbeat, fun, melodic tracks such as ‘Best Fake Friend’ and ‘Common Ground’, as well as slower tracks like ‘Loner’ that still play to Fangclub’s pop sensibilities.

Closer, ‘Animal Skin’, is an unexpected highlight, as Fangclub move away from grunge-lite and pursue airy dream-pop reminiscent of The Smashing Pumpkins, with lovely, gentle acoustic guitar and soft vocals. The reverb on the main riff elevates a simple motif to a more interesting, multi-layered one, and altogether puts something that’s a welcome divergence from everything that came before.

Despite mostly sticking to songwriting conventions, and wearing influences on their sleeves, Fangclub deliver an enjoyable selection of fun pop-rock songs on their self-titled debut. There are some duds, but when Fangclub focus on their strengths, they yield fantastic results.

3/5

‘Fangclub’ by Fangclub is released on 4th August on Vertigo.

Fangclub links: Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)

Leave a Reply