If bands were drag queens, Fantastic might be RuPaul.
Put on the Sun: what a wonderful word! EP and suddenly be transported into the French version of a Bob Villa painting—with vision so vivid, you’ll swear you’re among oversized happy trees and and bouncy happy kiddies, happily playing in big old piles of happy! It’s a trip no drug could induce, and one that, afterward, leaves you just as prone to questioning what the hell happened.
Like many of their pop peers, the group’s sound echoes a velveteen version of the Beach Boys, or the Partridge Family with modern-day instruments though sans David Cassidy. Songs are playfully instrumented with toyish keyboards, bouncy ooohs, and coquettish winks. In the EP’s opener, “Fragments”, this move is both cute and catchy. Creamy singing lances through the fun-filled musical backdrop, as the lead vocalist muses missives like “I feel abstract” and “I dream of water and purity”.
But the songs seem to lumber on through two or three melodic turns, making nearly all of them sound like a few different songs haphazardly tacked together with a too-much-too-soon effect. The last track, “Beauty Queen”, is a startling case in point. It begins as a Ben Folds-ish piano etude, which quickly moves into the territory of Broadway musical. Its spastic starts and stops, dramatic rushed singing over silences, and slow mid-section make it much more lounge act than pop act. By song’s end, you’ll swear you were listening to Austin Powers singing Barry Manilow.
Overall, this record relies too much on stickiness and not enough on holding itself together. The melodic moves that often tend to delight just come off as over the top on this record. Kinda like a drag queen with way too much make up.
// Notes from the Road
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