REVIEW: THE FATTY ACIDS – BOLÉRO (2013)
Today we welcome our newest contributor, Brandon Kenney! Brandon has previously written for Emmie Music Magazine, and has also played music with Nuclear Woods and Julian Lynch, as well as studied under Richard Davis. He majored in Agricultural and Applied Economics at UW-Madison and is hoping one day to have a career in finance. Welcome to Mezzic, Brandon!
The Fatty Acids have been making waves in the Milwaukee music scene for a couple of years now as well as earning themselves a reputation as local favorites. Their most recent release was a four-way split with their often-live counterparts, Sat. Nite Duets, and two bands from New York. The band, based in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, has also made other artistic impacts throughout the city. Several of their members are well established in the film production industry. Additionally, the band’s singer, Josh Evert, plays drums for the band Jaill. Finally, it has been great to see them foster diversity by playing with Milwaukee hip-hop acts such as Klassik.
Entitling your record with the name Boléro seems to be a product of an ever-popular remix culture. Just as with hip-hop, the Fatty Acids have taken to a culture of appropriation for inspiration. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this fact. As the French sociologist, Émile Durkheim, noted, “A human institution cannot rest upon error and falsehood.”
For those who don’t know, the name of this album is shared with a rather famous ballet composed by the French composer Maurice Ravel. The accented title of this piece is very similar to the genre of Latin music (perhaps Ravel did some appropriation of his own) it borrows the name from. Both the ballet (Boléro) and the genre (Bolero) focus on a rhythm of sixteenth note triplets set in ¾ time.
Taking cues from this classical reference, the album soars musically. The album opens with a magnum opus of a song called “Girls and Gods”; it starts with a sonic blast march and incomprehensible squeals only to cave into an atmospheric piano driven click clack interrupted by fuzz. This gives way to a churning synth accented by sunny runs that unfolds into a typhoon of melody that darkens as it advances. The album continues with “Airsick” which sounds like a score of 80’s arcade music with interwoven distortion that transitions to a funky bass. This shifts to a muscular chorus and then repeats. “The Worst Part” begins with a cheery tribal jam that takes off with a dynamic bass and elongated howls; the highlight is its progressive rock meets mariachi intervals. “Sportskin” features a recurring Chinese timbre and wordless vocals from Phox’s Monica Martin. The chorus comes across as a spacey jazz session. The album proceeds with the menacing synths and metal tinges of “Little Brother Syndrome” (note the handclaps). “Flamingo Graveyard” is a breezy reverbed Tropicália groove. “Hugs Your Bones” has a powerful falsetto-charged chorus. It breaks down into a ominous time signature flip-flop. The album closes with the Latin meets punk “Human Tetris Bodies”. This seems very apropos given the album’s title.
All in all, Boléro is a very strong endeavor. The robust rhythm section backs up a slew of intricate and complex melodies. Hopefully, this album will garner the attention it deserves.