Late of the Pier
Fantasy Black Channel
By Leila Regan-Porter
Late of the Pier are all over the place. And it seems they like it that way. From metal guitars to post punk keyboards to glam vocals to electro beats to severe dance tendancies to avant garde stylings, the band from Castle Donnington, England have a kitchen-sink element about them that (thankfully) makes them endearing rather than tiring.
The only way to be assess the band's debut record, Fantasy Black Channel, seems to be a song-by-song analysis, since every track is so completely different, with staggeringly different styles sometimes within the song itself. The CD starts off with startlingly heavy guitar riffs, causing one to exclaim, "Goodness, is that Queen? " Not the first thing one would expect from the next hipness from overseas. But it (which happens to be "Hot Tent Blues") doesn't last much more than a minute, and before you know it, the vocals come in and a new track ("Broken") comes into light, with disco beats from the drummer and sweeping '80s sythns from the keyboard.
And then it's another quick switch to a Gary Numan-styled retro vibe, mixed with a little bit of Killers electro dancey coolness for "Space and the Woods." "The Bears Are Coming" follows with a slightly more stripped back sound of hard wooden percussion and a funky and clunky vibe, thanks to the odd noises and Hot Chip dancefloor feel. "Heartbeat" then dances around in a messy – albeit uber-cool fashion, probably with dayglo pants and feathers in its hair – before breaking down into classic guitar rock for a flash and then quickly ending.
The band launch, after a short, twinkling introduction, into the positively bizarre Sparks-esque "Whitesnake," complete with excitable vigor on the scaling and chiming keyboards and hyper vocals. With the juxtaposition of the fast-and-furious Queens of the Stone Age guitars interspersed in the song, the result is a heavenly concoction of split personalities being wound up and let go.
"The Enemy Are The Future" gains energy slowly, with the vocals coming in under the awakening guitars, keys and drums, like the indie rock sun rising. The song then suddenly bursts forth with bright acclaim, with singer Samuel Eastgate repeating variations of "Is it an easy life," "It's a hard life" and "The enemy are the future" over again in a lilting Bowie fashion that shines in part of the song. But then the track descends into fuzzy electro punk madness a la Crystal Castles, before climbing back out again to round up the song with a Franz Ferdinand/Talking Heads post punk boppiness. Quite a journey for six minutes and one second.
The result of all these songs can be quite exhausting, but in a dancing-until-4-a.m. fashion, not a bothersome-overly-energetic-child way, though Late of the Pier do share some of the characteristics of a ADD-inflicted preteen. While some of the record lapses into invigorous synthpunk, with Late of the Pier constantly interjecting their own random influences whenever the whim hits them. Easily swayed by probably thousands of records, Late of Pier are at the least never boring.