[20 July 2009]
Listeners unacquainted with the work of Big Fresh are in for a glorious surprise. The album packaging and liner notes are designed to look like an overblown mash note and the album title, Big Fresh Forever allows the scrawling of the initials BFF in several places. Yet, what’s on the record amounts to an exuberant love letter addressed from a stable of hard-working, veteran musicians (the band has been making albums for over a decade) to some of the quirkiest and most innovative pop/rock acts of the last few decades.
The talented Lexington, Kentucky-based quintet (which includes such notables as the Apples in Stereo’s John Ferguson) has produced a brisk, buoyant album (13 tracks in 30 minutes, seven of which are less than two minutes in length) yet so many sounds and influences are in play here. The Big Fresh sound is a marriage of supremely tuneful melodies, Flaming Lips-esque psychedelic grooves, layered harmonies a la the Beach Boys, ‘80s synth-pop and the quirky joy of the Polyphonic Spree. On the band’s MySpace page, they claim to be compared most often to bands like Devo, XTC and They Might Be Giants, fitting comparisons all.
Fun yet well-crafted, meandering yet somehow simultaneously tight, the tracks on Big Fresh Forever are marked by zest, zeal and energy. Highlights included the none-too-conventional gospel track “Joy Bomb #1” (and its titular counterpart, the ‘60s surf rock feel of “Joy Bomb #2”), “Losing Friends to War”, a musical cousin to the Lips’ “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” and the unabashedly ‘80s throwback vibe constructed on “Entertainment”. Big Fresh Forever is an amusing pop record that deserves to be taken seriously.