Worried about a Christmas present for that tricky, discerning music fan in your life? Worry no more. London’s The Fierce and the Dead return to the increasingly crowded fray with their second album- the beguiling Spooky Action, a record that is by turns evocative, mysterious, raucous, joyful and (pun intended) triumphant.
Opening track Part 4 sets the ball rolling with punchy, heavy riffs, duelling guitars and a sparky, no messin’ about attitude that is invigorating: you feel instantly at home and ready for the next nugget of aural wonder. It comes in the form of Ark, the album’s lead off single which is a smorgasbord of ideas and invention, light and shade, colour and nuance. Look: enough verbiage- it’s a cracking tune.
There’s a playfulness to Let’s Start a Cult– it has the sense of being a one take, “shall we see how this goes?” vibe to it- the result is 3 mins with more ideas than a landfill indie band have had in their careers and an energy and effervescence that is hard to resist. So we won’t.
Pyramid‘s initial reflectiveness is cunning obfuscation- there’s a dark heart reaching out, pulling you back into its aural vortex. Likewise the hypnotic I Like It, I’m Into It has some of the best basslines (courtesy of Kevin Feazy) I have heard since My Bloody Valentine started inhabiting my cerebral cortex. Intermission 3 sounds like mid period Pearl Jam meeting Radiohead in a bar, ordering ALL the bourbon and seeing what might transpire- this is, as you might expect, a very good thing indeed. Entropy’s a cunning little number too- don’t be seduced by its Pied Piper introductory innocence: it’s a three minute sonic storm of feedback and viscera. Similarly the jazz inflections of Chief are an aural red herring(forgive the mixed metaphors, it has been a long week) for the raw power unleashed by the guitar gnashings and gnarling of its unrelenting core. Take a bow, Mr Matt Stevens– your work here is done.
What I like about The Fierce and the Dead in general and Spooky Action in particular is the way their music is both comforting and disquieting, familiar yet strange, collaborative yet single-minded. With Spooky Action, The Fierce and the Dead have their collective muse in ridiculously rude health. There’s an old adage that we all have a novel in us; it’s just that only some of us get the muse and discipline to get it out. I’m not so sure that this applies nowadays. For me,The Fierce and The Dead are making the soundtrack to the movie– not the novel– in my head. I tell you, on the basis of the evidence in Spooky Action, it’s going to be an Oscar winner.