Fuck Buttons released one of the most interesting and polarizing albums of 2008, one of several named on my end of the year list (which would undoubtedly have been published here if Optimistic Underground was running at the time) and a perennial physical overload to unwitting passengers in my car. This October the English duo are set to blow faces off and disintegrate non-believers with the sonic asteroid they’ve named Tarot Sport.
Using the word epic to describe this music is beyond moot; it’s simply a given at this point. Yet this fact does little to temper the unshakeable urge to invoke it – and feel it – on every listen. This is the sort of thing epic was coined for. Kicking off with the dancefloor earthquake of Surf Solar, expanded to 10 minutes from its early incarnation as a 7″ single, the album shouts its thesis from a mountaintop and gets moving at a breakneck clip. With an insistent four on the floor beat and stocatto-spliced vocal clips there’s no wonder which of debut Street Horrrsing‘s tracks was the launch point for this sophomore triumph: shining, atmospheric, ass-shaking standout Bright Tomorrow. Every track, though submerged in the same industrial crunch mana Fuck Buttons are known for, feels more breathable, open, dynamic and most of all catchy, than anything they’ve yet created. Third track The Lisbon Maru gently (and subtly) conjures the pulsing power-surge key stabs from the debut’s stellar opening (and most popular) track Sweet Love For Planet Earth, swaddling the backbone in vacuumed reverb and what sounds like hundreds of damaged violins compressed into a small wind tunnel and dialing up the velocity throughout its run.
After this point the album transforms into pure, blissed out, pounding noisy nirvana. Fourth track Olympians blasted its way to the top of my list, where it reigns with impunity, after only my first two listens. Not content with merely teasing their dancefloor intentions or continuing to shy away from unabashed melody, this striking 10 minute centerpiece showcases everything Fuck Buttons do well and then some. Finally delivering on the ambitious promise suggested all along, the moment is a revelation: a band fully coming into their own as artists and hitting an undeniably assured stride. Nothing feels remotely tentative about the syncopated big beat drums beamed through the tonal cloud this song is born in, nor the manner in which every element seems to gather up, tightening into a coiled rhythmic outburst in anticipation of the mythical organ swells beginning three minutes in. It’s a gorgeous night sky colored with soaring waves of heartrending resonance and shimmering supernovas, exploding out of the mix like galactic pop rocks – a transcendent meteor shower as close and tangible as the ‘play’ button.
Topping that monster would be difficult, if not impossible; the guys instead turn and unleash a funky blast of head clearing noise bop in a (relatively) concise 5 minutes, before diving into sonic rollercoaster Space Mountain (appropriately titled) with driving tribal percussion and twinkling keyboards ablaze. A nearly-clean guitar tone drives the action, disintegrating in the atmosphere, enveloped in feedback, before giving way to the final push: closer Flight of the Serpent and its destructive martial stomp. Swooning UK post rock guitar moves over a clattering speed-march rhythm section, bursting with feedback at just the right moments and sharing the spotlight with a romantic organ pulse grown from Olympians‘ seed. Feeling almost like a burly reprisal of that apex, the swarm of drone flies suddenly drop away at the halfway point, exposing the skeletal drum pattern and letting it hang, galloping along unadorned for several moments. Thankfully, majestic crests of oceanic keyboard melody and shattering light beams of narcotic bliss return to guide the album to a satisfactorily dizzying end.
Watch this clip with the volume cranked to whet your appetite if my words haven’t already.