After five years in the wilderness, the Fun Loving Criminals are back, with what is billed as ’the first party album of the decade’. Now I have to be honest, when I think of party albums, my choices would be far removed from anything this band could produce, but with my reviewing head on, I slipped ‘Classic Fantastic’ into the CD player, and gave it a fair chance to get me into the party spirit. I’m sorry to say it failed to deliver when it came to that, but there was plenty to make note of, smile at, and in some cases enjoy.
A comedy moment came right at the start of the CD with the funny vocal intonations on the word ‘mars’, during the track of the same name. This song also showcased the futuristic, mid-tempo dance side to the band. This was followed by title track ‘Classic Fantastic’, which went for a more chilled, old school soul vibe, and a musical focus that veered more towards instruments than electronic effects. To add variety, there was also a bit of a carnival feel towards the latter part of the track, which was closely followed by an indie/rock explosion in ‘The Originals’, a prime candidate for sing-alongs at gigs. Next up is one of my album highlights, which although doesn’t inspire a verbal torrent for its chorus, it does have a cool vibe to it, subtle drum arrangements, and a strong vocal/rap/lyrical content. The tracks that follow send the album both up, and down in my estimation, one of the positives being ‘El Malo’. Although a little repetitive in places, the ambient funk guitar solos, smooth vocal, and sounds of nature make this a song that stands out from the crowd. Then there is forthcoming single ‘Mister Sun’, a quite happy, carefree song, and ‘Get You Coat’, with its deep, James Brown style vocal, and sexy, sultry club vibe, which finishes off the CD nicely. On a down note (for me anyway) there is ‘Conversations With Our Attorney’. While the title would suggest a reference to their famous legal battles with their first manager, the rest of the song seems like nothing more than kids playing with a voicemail machine, with some bad language, and ranting thrown in for good measure. On a final bum note, there was also ‘Keep On Yelling’, which didn’t flow as well as the other album tracks, and was quite hard to understand/relate to.
As I said at the top end of this review, my choices when it comes to party albums, wouldn’t involve releases by the Fun Loving Criminals, and I was proved right, when the album didn’t really get me in the party spirit! I was expecting the tracks/musical ideas to pack more of a punch, fit together better, and in some cases be more danceable. That said, the band do have some interesting ideas, a variety of vocal styles to call on, and a good attitude/approach to their music. Not quite ‘Classic’, but some of it’s ‘Fantastic’.