Fitz and the Tantrums Look to The Dance Floor on Self-Titled LP
Alternative band (for lack of a better categorization) Fitz and the Tantrums return with its third album, Fitz and the Tantrums. As blasé as the title of album three might be, Fitz and the Tantrums lacks no shortage of the “E” word – energy! The question is, is this particular album more than just energy? Well,…sometimes.
“HandClap” starts Fitz and the Tantrums off right with its exuberance. Yep, “HandClap” is infectious, more than capable of “making your hands clap” as the lyrics suggest. Keeping the tempo quick, follow up “Complicated” keeps the momentum fierce – hands should still be clapping and heads nodding. Michael FITZpatrick even gets a bit “dirty”:
“We do this every night / Yeah we f*ck and then we fight.”
Sigh, where is the innocence in music anymore? G-O-N-E – gone! Regardless, doesn’t that lyric sound similar to a certain 2016 no. 1 hit by an ex-One Direction member?
Most of us aren’t going to get all worked up over an f-bomb so moving on, “Burn It Down” continues on an energy high, like “Complicated,” tackling love. “Burn It Down” isn’t necessarily the slickest pop record of 2016 but in regards to Fitz and the Tantrums themselves, this is clearly a pop record with little alternative or particularly soulful about it. Are they conforming/hip to the times? Perhaps.
The tempo continues to “roll” on “Roll Up,” which at least employs synthesized horns to sneak a peek back to the past. Still, “Roll Up” has at least “one foot in the door” of the…present of course. Fitz still has mad pipes – gimmicky modern pop couldn’t take that from him. “Tricky” maintains the gift of the groove, clearly eying the dance floor. Does it/Will it stick? Well, that’s not that “tricky” – probably not. BUT, it’s fun for the moment – a spin or two, maybe even three.
“Fadeback” plays as carefree as everything else, keeping the tempo up and the beats dope. Initially, it seemed as if the band was taking a page out of Janet Jackson’s book (“Feedback” from Discipline) but they didn’t quite go there, not to mention opting for “fade back” instead. Even if it seems as Fitz seems too eager to dance at this point, embrace the moments when they win you over – “Fadeback” would be one of those moments.
“Run It” gets its point across easily, considering how many times “run it” is reiterated. Sigh, it goes with the “pop territory.” “Get Right Back” is a better rounded, more distinct record. It implements 80s cues – think pop, new wave, and that “so 80s” signature snare riff. “Do What You Want” embodies the 80s.
Penultimate joint “Walking Target” is more energy and sound than deep, memorable or transcendent song. It’s delicious mind you, but arguably, Fitz and the Tantrums has had too much of this up until this point, particularly when there are better songs that come before it. “A Place for Us” concludes the album nearly as hyper as it begins, though it should be noted the tempo is a slower – still not SLOW of course.
How does Fitz and the Tantrums stack up when it’s all said and done? It’s fun – at least for a while. The main rub is that perhaps it’s “too much fun” with little variation in tempo and a lack of substance and depth. Is this as bad an album as some critics have suggested? Not quite, but it also isn’t the year’s best and likely will fade quickly. Ultimately, it’ll tickle your fancy for a minute – a hot minute!
Gems: “HandClap,” “Complicated,” “Tricky” & “Get Right Back”