'Vulture Culture' - Fangclub / Turned Up Louder
While the stereotype of the tortured musician is something of a cliché, it is undeniable that it is often the most turbulent times that produce the most candid, genuine examples of a person’s artistry. For nobody is this truer than Irish trio Fangclub, whose sophomore record ‘Vulture Culture’ is a veritable maelstrom of anger, pain, and self-reflection, encapsulated in a wave of alt-rock rhythms and 90s punk grit. Bourne of the mental and emotional instability that followed the band’s meteoric rise to prominence off the back of their 2017 self-titled debut album, the band’s sophomore record deals with the highs and lows of reaching unprecedented levels of success, while dealing with the collapse of your own private life. A palpably visceral record, ‘Vulture Culture’ demonstrates the prevailingly hopeful ideology that something truly authentic and resonant can be given rise to by the most dark and chaotic of experiences.
Low, melancholy notes bubble up through what sounds almost like the rattling click of an old film reel, announcing the arrival of opener ‘Last Time’. Plodding, melodic, and drizzled with melancholy, the dense, sludgy guitar notes cased in a honeyed veil of minor keys make it the perfect song to watch the rain slip down frosted window panes to. Just at the moment when the melody begins to get a touch too claustrophobic, however, the ethereal harmonies floating around the melody’s edges rouse up as a sudden plunge into pounding drums and grungy guitars packed full of a dark grain, bring the potential of this potently atmospheric rock ballad to full fruition.
A narcotically robotic voice carries you into the title track, ‘Vulture Culture’. The low, reverberating guitar tone that features in broad swathes across this record is injected with a burst of swagger and grunge-infused groove that make it a darkly enticing offering. Melodically, the driving force is the grumbling bassline that infuses this track with a self-assured, almost seductive assuredness: yet the lyrics stand in utter opposition to this, being woven with pessimistic images that denounce the violence, both internal and external, that society breeds. Contrast is an oft-neglected tool that ‘Vulture Culture’ employs to stunning effect. ‘Black Rainbow’, as its title may suggest, plays host to enigmatically tantalising verses, yet with choruses a touch airier than the sluicing guitars and slowly dripping vocals might have alluded to- almost spacey in their ambience. Equally as heady and entrancing is the chorus on ‘Viva Violent’, whose sliding guitars stand in juxtaposition to the comparatively sparse verses, allowing the darkly uttered call-to-arms that gave the track it’s title to resonate out with all the more sway. Punkier guitars climb, pitch and fall with entrancing rapidity on ‘King Dumb’, the wordplay of which is an utter delight! While the chorus is less restrained and streamlined than its predecessors, the uplifting melody line is again entirely oxymoronic when set against the nihilistic lyrics – the repeated refrain of ‘we’re going nowhere’ highlights this especially effectively.
‘Vulture Culture’ does boast some subtle surprises too. The resonating guitar reverb on ‘Every Day’ haunts as it hums, yet this mid-tempo crawl never drags, thanks to the rich-toned lead lines, overlain with lilting, melancholy vocals, and all kept grounded by the deep throb of the drums. ‘All I Have’ is somewhat unique in its brighter, poppier hue, but still with that densely brittle guitar tone dragging out the depth. The real star here is the undulating lead guitar line that slides and floats with ease over the density of the bassline, yet each of the melody’s layers is given space to breathe by the beats of silence streaked like flashes of bright white in an inky black tattoo.
In amongst the artistry, too, are tracks that, while they are in no way less deeply explored, carry a certain weight that highlights them as being anthems-in-waiting. ‘Nightmare’s effervescent guitar lines makes it an ideal slice of radio-ready alt rock; the virility in the bassline makes it infinitely danceable; and the chorus is subtly rousing- enough that it prompts the desire to raise a fist into the air almost without effort. The force of the thunderous grumbling of ‘Heavy Handed’ whacks you in the stomach from the first listen, and the strain on the vocals evokes resonances of early Foo Fighters, but the lead guitar line, highlighted in the bridge, carries enough scything zest to make it raucously danceable. Lead single ‘Hesitations’ opens with echoing guitars that sound as if you have an ear pressed to the studio door, before exploding outwards into a full-bodied wall of crunchy guitars, with a brittle bassline that grinds away beneath the despondent vocals. The addition of a children’s choir brings an almost eerie touch to the song’s closing sections- whose voices will undoubtedly be mimicked by the voices of any crowd onto which this track is unleashed! Staccato guitar strokes map out the beat of closer ‘Slow’ so powerfully you can almost hear the crowds clapping along somewhere in the mist! Rolling drums build into the final, full-bodied chorus that is pumped full of a horizon-gazing, fist-pumping fervour. Despite its relatively sedate pace, the sheer emotion evoked by the soaring vocal line is all the final sucker-punch needed to ensure that this is one sophomore record that it is impossible to forget.
'Vulture Culture' is due for release on July 5th via Vertigo Records
Check out the video for the band's latest single, 'Hesitations', below:
Fangclub will be heading out on a string of live dates this summer, before embarking on a headline UK/EU run in the autumn- full dates can be found below and tickets are available here:
26th Standon, UK, Standon Calling Festival
27th Pikehall, UK, Y-Not Festival
15th Zurich, Switzerland, Musikfestwochen Festival
2nd Liverpool, Zanzibar
3rd Leeds, Hyde Park Book Club
5th Glasgow, The Attic Bar
6th Newcastle, Riverside 2
7th Edinburgh, The Mash House
9th Hull, Adelphi
10th Manchester, Night People
11th Birmingham, Sunflower Lounge
12th Guilford, Boileroom
13th Bristol, Crofters Rights
14th Exeter, Cavern Club
16th London, Camden Assembly
17th St. Albans, The Horn
19th Brighton, The Green Door Store
20th Southampton, Joiners
24th Zurich, Werk 21
25th Nyon, La Paranthese
27th Munich, Folks! Club
28th Vienna, Arena
30th Berlin, Auster Club
31st Hamburg, Hafenklang
3rd Netherlands, Cinetol
13th Dublin, Button Factory