Self-titled third album from the Los Angeles based band brings dangerously lukewarm tracks drifting aimlessly into the stratosphere…
If you’re looking for an album packed full of catchy, soul-influenced sounds from Fitz & the Tantrums then you might be somewhat disappointed with this one. This self-titled album released 10th June 2016 on Elektra records brings a far more commercial pop sound than their previous albums Pickin’ Up the Pieces and More than just a Dream.
Fitz & the Tantrums formed in 2008 in Los Angeles and were named “the band to watch” by Rolling Stone in 2011. Their songs have been featured on Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds, FIFA 13 and Argos adverts, to name a few. They also supported Maroon 5 on tour back in 2009. This is a band brimming with neo soul in an alternate genre than the producer-driven music tracks of our generation.
“HandClap” is an undoubtedly strong start to the album, crafting immediate hooks amongst Joe Karnes’ addictive basslines. Their music seems to have grown legs, but it becomes unclear where they’re actually running to. The track begins with a heavy bassline and punchy percussion, with Fitzpatrick leading iconic vocals into the chorus “I can make your hands clap”. It’s quite obviously catchy, and has become a straightforward radio hit since the release of the single in March 2016. Their neo soul genre seems to have been lost far beneath the layers of this track, and is spread very thin throughout the rest of the album.
As the second track “Complicated” begins it is pronounced that this is a new direction for Fitz & the Tantrums, another song with simple but energetic riffs and repetitive beats. Further tracks “Get right back” and “Roll Up” show a quicker rhythm with electronic keys and very addictive, uneven tempo. There are confusing combinations and layers to the songs, which could perhaps show they’re in hot pursuit of slap-happy club classics.
“Run It” starts with a change of gear with R&B style keyboard from Jeremy Ruzumna. It’s a true crowd pleaser if you can just shut your eyes and imagine the bright lights, elbow-to-elbow crush in a hot and sweaty music venue – but as a sit-down album it’s very easy to get bored halfway through a track without feeling any guilt.
It’s hard to remember that this is the same band who made their mark with songs such as “Money Grabber” – a real Motown revival track with a heck load of soul. Fitz & the Tantrums is a passable attempt at a self-titled album, but in general the mish mash of styles is non-descript, leaving listeners unsure how to react. It seems unclear why this album in particular has been chosen as the one to be self-titled – if there is in fact any reason at all. Perhaps it’s just an attempt to explain that the songs are as repetitive as the album title appears next to their name.
As a whole Fitz & the Tantrums is full of immediate hooks, but they quickly lose us like a lazy fish at the bottom of the pond. Whilst “HandClap” is fresh and groovy, the remainder of the album is purely pop formulas lacking any real meaning.
This Fitz and the Tantrums article was written by Annalise Watson, a GIGsoup contributor