Considering that this Brooklyn-based rock trio's 2010 debut album relied so much on muscular guitar-flexing, listeners may be taken aback by the opening track, "Kindergarten," on which a bouncy piano figure shares space with wheedling synthesizer tones. Still intact, though, are the upbeat lyrics and gather-around-the-campfire vocal melodies for which Fang Island has become known.
With the second song, the instantly beguiling "Sisterly," the band returns to its signature sound—a combination of prog, metal and alternative rock, the guitars sounding not unlike the bagpipes-imitating melodies of a Big Country tune.
In fact, Fang Island embraces diverse influences that 20 years ago might have seemed irrevocably disparate. Especially appealing is the manner in which the band unironically indulges in hair-metal guitar-riffing on "Seek It Out" and "Never Understand," the latter benefiting from group vocals that recall Lindsey Buckingham-era Fleetwood Mac. Bright-sounding piano and guitars coexist nicely in "Chime Out."
The guys seem naturally equipped for peppery jam-band-style instrumentals. "Dooney Rock" feels like a metallurgical experiment in bluegrass and Celtic stomping. And "Chompers" definitely owes a debt to Eric Johnson's high-voltage guitar virtuosity, but at less than three minutes, it ends a little too soon. On almost every song, Fang Island's brevity is a blessing—it leaves you wanting more.