Album Review: Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

When I imagine what a fuck buttons is, I picture the experiment in which scientists rigged a rats’ brain to emit doses of serotonin every time it hit a button. As to be expected, the rat continuously hit the bar — over-and-over again — foregoing all food and drink for a quick-fix brain orgasm endlessly until it died. So, what would a band like this sound like? Probably somewhere between Abba and Junior Senior.

But UK’s Fuck Buttons (Benjamin John Power and Andrew Hung) do not sound like that, at all. Not anywhere near it. It’s more likely someone pointed out to Benjamin or Andrew that they missed a button on their shirt, and his straight-faced reply was “fuck buttons”. This disregard, or at least challenge, of the “norm” sounds closer to what could be FB’s sonic approach.

Their sound is one of static, overdrive guitar layers, and distorted vocals out of which gasps of harmony and rhythm emerge. In 2008, F.B. unleashed Street Horrrsing to near universal critical acclaim — an unlikely feat for a six track, 49-minute endurance test whose first discernible beat begins after the 30-min mark. The coarse fuzz was dotted with keyboard peaks, tribal poly-rhythms, indecipherable chanting and contorted screams — no one was sure what they were getting at, but were enjoying the trip.

The first discernible beat on their Sophomore album, Tarot Sport, enters at about 1:30 on the first track “Surf Solar”, followed quickly by a club worthy cut-up female vocal sample. So… the Fuck Buttons can throw a change-up as well as a screwball. It’s a pleasant surprise though; an apt introduction to the more accessible, more immediately pleasurable follow-up LP.

The highlight is the LP’s centerpiece, “Olympians”, whose grandiosity should soundtrack a slow-motion marathon montage. Clocking in at nearly 11 min, the track itself is a rewarding endurance challenge. Closing the album is equally epic “Flight of the Feathered Serpent” with drum machines, keyboards, and Zinner-like guitar squall creating what amounts to an exultant sonic victory lap after an intriguing two year 15-track output.

While the first album felt more organically distorted, the Fuck Buttons’ more electronic approach this time around still reaches for a familiar goal; transcendence through pattern and repetition. Tarot Sport will be a different experience if you loved with their debut, but there is nothing you can really get upset about here. The base materials are still there — distortion, rhythm, synth — it’s just in a more structured form.

Imagine taking a weighty, imposing piece of abstract art and dividing into a more-manageable triptych. Arguably, the new form could make for an equally enjoyably aesthetic experience (perhaps even moreso), but those enamored with the original may still cry foul.

One thought on “Album Review: Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s