"Quirky" is the word that came to mind on first hearing this album - right from the first song, "Horse pill vector", odd song titles and unexpected guitar patterns build into an invigorating original sound. Fiver are the latest signing to Fierce Panda records and their dizzy combination of dreamy lo-fi, art-rock quirks and the energetic dynamics of american emo-core really stands out from the homogenous blandness of some of the year's more mainstream indie releases. The band hail from California, and their lo-fi credentials are boosted by some excellent production from neighbour Jason Lyttle of Grandaddy.
His influence shows in the tuneful noisy bursts of keyboard and guitar that intersperse cute vocals on "Pretty kitty", the keyboard-dominated "One mile an hour", and doubtless contributes overall to the album's atmospheric sound.
The second track "Builder" starts of with droney guitar and quiet vocal harmonies, and livens up towards the end with some warped but effective melodies. The guitars manage to combine the quirky art-rock riffs of bands like Pavement with the tuneful energy of Seafood (who they have also been supporting for some UK gigs).
My favourite track on the album has to be "Feragogo". It's biting chord sequences and rich melancholy dynamics beckon into a dreamy lo-fi future for indie rock. Everything from the patterned drumming, driving bass, dreamy vocals and chords which attack one moment and strum steadily the next stick in the mind. A tempo change leads into and atmospheric instrumental ending, quickly followed by a fun little 10 second filler track ("Tiger beat") showing the band aren't lacking in the sense of humour department either.
Later tracks graft twisted melodies with interesting lyrics onto a guitar sound that ranges from noisy layered post-rock to laid-back melancholy. Keyboards add extra crunch to the band's more feedback laden moments and twinkles to the quieter melodies. The album finishes with "Snowball", which builds a catchy chorus from quiet rhythmic atmospherics. Overall, the band seem both sensitive and powerful, fun and sincere, challenging conventions while remaining very listenable. Anyone who suggests guitar-based music is heading into a rut should listen to this and eat their words.
10Matthew Willson's Score