Fangclub’s self-titled album last year really did disappoint, see what had been a hitherto promising indie-grunge band squandering so much of the potential on weak, forgettable songs and a lack of momentum that couldn’t possibly have spread over a full album. But by and large, that album failed to even make a dent in the rock scene at the time, and while the Irish trio have been steadily plugging away on strings of support slots, slightly retooling their approach for a new EP is probably the best option to tap back into the quality that was previously there.
And though by no means perfect, True Love is a step in the right direction, pared back to only five tracks and hitting with a sharper instrumental angle. Even just from the opening track Knife, with thick, gritty basslines and room for Steven King to let loose his frayed, ragged howl that always proves to be his most impactful vocal approach. It’s a shame it’s not used more often, especially when the subdued, mid-ranged Smother is here, but the steps up that have been made are still noticeable. It’s definitely a more lean, concentrated release that, at the very least, manages to stick a bit more.
It’s just a shame that Fangclub’s instrumentation hasn’t really evolved for the better. There’s definitely more presence and weight to the likes of Knife and Heart Is A Landmine, but it’s a largely samey formula of low-slung grunge that’s really beginning to overstay it’s welcome now. As much of a ‘90s callback as Sweater Forever is supposed to be, that doesn’t stop it from being so staid as it trundles along in the way that soured so much of Fangclub’s debut. There’s definitely less of it here, but True Love’s improvements only seem to be incremental rather than unleashing something truly substantial.
Still, it’s a start, and although Fangclub are still a long way from becoming a band who can genuinely wow, they’re getting back on the right track and that’s something to be commended. Anything really great is still a long way off yet, particularly in terms of stubborn weak spots they still can’t seem to shake, but True Love has fewer of them than moments where the praise is wholeheartedly due.
For fans of: Tigercub, Pretty Vicious, Demob Happy
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘True Love’ by Fangclub is released on 29th June on Vertigo Records.