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Review: Fangclub Debut Album

I’ve never been punched in the face, but I imagine the feeling is somewhat similar to the sensation that overwhelmed me when I listened to Dublin-based trio Fangclub’s full length debut.

Following the release of two critically acclaimed EP’s in 2016, the alt-rock, grunge group are leading a renaissance of sorts in the Irish music scene. Catchy melodies combined with breathless, monumental sounding riffs result in a powerful and attractive effort from the three-piece.

Opening track ‘Bullet Head’ will be familiar to fans of the band. It somewhat gently lulls you into a false sense of security before swiftly head-butting you into the bridge of the nose. It’s raw, frantic and straight to the point. Dust off the flannel shirt lads and ladies, this is going to be a good ‘un.

‘Role Model’ keeps the pace high and is another familiar track having appeared on the initial ‘Bullet Head EP’ back in early 2016. We’re treated to our first brand new song after about 7 minutes, and it’s an absolute barn-burner. ‘Lightning’ is the perfect summation of everything Fangclub is about, powerful, driving riffs fused with catchy refrains. Vocalist/Guitarist Steven King expertly captains the track, the energy contained in the build up to the chorus is infectious and as for the hook itself, well I’m still singing whilst writing this review, so that has to be good. Definitely one of the high points of the album.

The rhythm section consisting of drummer Dara Coleman and bassist Kevin Keane truly power the band. The job of a bass player is often a thankless one, but Keane deserves every bit of commendation for his distorted and strong lines that supply the backbone to a number of tracks on the LP. His performances on band staple ‘Psycho’ and new track ‘Best Fake Friends’ are vital. Drummer Dara Coleman’s style immediately draws comparisons with rock royalty, Dave Ghrol. It’s frenetic and aggressive, every wrap of the cymbal, every slap of the snare and every flick of the kick drum are authoritative but purposeful. It’s neck twinging, head banging inducing goodness.

Single ‘Bad Words’ is a song simply destined for the arenas of the world, it’s a testament to the band that this song wouldn’t feel out of place on Nirvana’s 1993 effort, In Utero. A personal favourite is track 8, ‘Common Ground’ a punchy, Offspring like effort but with added spice.

The blistering 37 minute album is curtly rounded off with the stellar, ‘Animal Skin’. The boys briefly part ways with the snarling, biting tone featured on the rest of the release, choosing to close the LP with a dreamy, semi-acoustic ballad. It’s a welcome change of pace and more importantly it fits snugly within the other tracks, it’s the perfect curtain closer on an absolutely ferocious debut.

Fangclub have not just announced their arrival onto the scene, but rather shouted it at the top of their lungs. Their self-titled debut is a must-listen, it’s stripped back, no nonsense alt-rock. It’s fucking brilliant.