To truly ‘make it’ as a band nowadays, you have to bring something different to the table. Los Angeles quartet FIDLAR are a prime example, having frequently been named as one of modern rock’s best new bands in many publications. Their blend of grunge, surf-pop and indie rock has earned them a steadily growing army of intrigued listeners, and newly-released record Too has been one of the most anticipated indie albums of the year so far.
On the surface, it sounds promising. Aspects of the band’s sound like the chunky guitars at the forefront of openers 40oz.On Repeat and Punks are determined to get heads bobbing, while Elvis Kuehn’s brilliant guitar melodies that underpin the latter especially will keep those already piqued interests steady. And there are plenty of other twists to the tracks on Too which highlight just why FIDLAR are indeed something different. Standout number Sober involves singer Zac Carper ranting intensely in place of usual sung verses which is nothing short of genius, and the overall sixties vibe and simplicity of most of the tracklisting makes the whole album all the more likeable and refreshing.
But as one gets deeper into Too, the whole vibe begins to grate more and more. Every aspect, especially Carper’s screamy vocals are much too deafening for probably anyone’s liking. Songs with softer vocals are this album’s saving grace, and the muted, quiet part of Drone seven songs in is the only moment of blissful peace evident. It’s quite clear that FIDLAR want to be a loud band that also wants to experiment with dynamics from time to time, but they have nowhere near mastered this yet. Overdose quite happily plods along until a completely unwelcome cacophony near the end, and constant dynamic changes in closer Bad Habits make the song sound so disjointed it’s almost unlistenable.
And perhaps the most irritating part of Too is the lyrical abrasiveness. Quips like “life just sucks when you get older”, “maybe I should fall in love but that just seems so boring” and “oh my god, I’m becoming my dad” delivered in a whiny tone makes the whole thing seem bratty and ultimately takes away from the initial likeability, as well as diminishing the impact FIDLAR’s potential has. This coupled with the pointless ‘jokes’ at the end of a lot of tracks makes the skilled musicians in FIDLAR seem like childish buffoons. Once you notice this, which isn’t too difficult to do so straightaway, more of the same throughout every song just makes Too annoying to listen to.
But the biggest annoyance is the fact that there are truly great ideas at the core of this album. Why Generation’s endearingly awkward riff and sixties vibe are promising while West Coast is a delectable slice of summer. But the overuse of reverb and effects mixed with repetition and immaturity just makes Too a chore to listen to. FIDLAR stands for ‘Fuck It Dog, Life’s A Risk’ and there have certainly been risks taken in order to cram as much as they can into one album, which is something to be admired. But anyone would probably choose a simple album than something this crowded and abrasive.
For fans of: Ramones, Parquet Courts, Beach Day
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Too’ by FIDLAR is out now on Wichita Recordings.