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Brooklyn's beloved guitar-anthem optimists Fang Island return with an album befitting its title: Major. Like the painstakingly chiseled marble of the album artwork, Major is hefty, solid, monolithic and regal. Whereas Fang Island described their celebrated 2010 self-titled Sargent House debut as, ''everyone high-fiving everyone,'' Major is evermore confident, triumphant and brimming with infectious enthusiasm.
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MAJOR begins with a mission-statement of sorts; the opening track, "Kindegarten" announces "all I know I learned in Kindegarten," and repeats the refrain throughout the song. The song is upbeat, uptempo, and a good example of the band's focus on guitar noodling. A similar song, the fourth track "Make Me" finds the band repeating "I hope I never understand." This seems to sum up Fang Island's attitudes -- they're easy going, and they don't want to concern themselves with the world's problems. The second track on MAJOR, "Sisterly," is the album's lead single, and it recalls Dinosaur Jr. at moments -- laden with thick guitar and melody, it's a highlight of the album. "Asunder" is a wonderful track, carried by plenty of "whoa!'s" and palm-muted guitars. After "Asunder," Fang Island rips into "Dooney Rock" -- it's an instrumental that offers plenty of great guitar work (both rhythm and lead). The album closes with "Victorinian," a track that substitutes Fang Island's guitars for pianos; this change however doesn't affect the band's style -- it remains another upbeat, fast song.
Fans of Weezer's goofier work or Japandroid's life-affirming celebratory rock-n-roll should find a lot here to enjoy. For listeners looking for deep personal insights or emotional catharsis, there's not much here to inspire. For listeners who weren't charmed by Fang Island's selftitled release, MAJOR won't do much to change minds. Essential tracks for downloading/sampling: "Asunder," "Kindergarten," and "Sisterly." Fang Island's MAJOR is a good listen, but it never quite lives up to the joy of the FANG ISLAND.
Check out [...] for my other Top 10 Albums of 2012.