Band of the Day

2012.10.02

Fierce Creatures

Densely layered psychedelic pop candy from an energetic septet
Here I lie with all my friends. We have parties here, we have lights on strings, won't you come with me?
lyrics from Catacomb Party

Fierce Creatures emerged from the scorching Fresno, CA summer of 2009. Abandoning past musical undertakings that never seemed to fit quite right, the band came together to build a fresh identity, free of limitations, focused on the joy of undiluted music. They drew inspiration from the melodic heritage of classic rock and pop, as well as the grandeur and spirit of its inventive successors. By reinterpreting musical conventions and pursuing a song wherever it leads, Fierce Creatures has created something new and altogether enchanting.

Guitar and keys drive the songs, but don’t restrict them. Mandolin, harmonica, and bells accentuate the sound, with chanting choruses and a miscellany of percussion. The product is a cultivated art-pop that fluctuates from delicate anthems to soaring ballads. Fierce Creatures’ self-produced, self-released debut EP, I Mostri Feroci, arrived in July 2010. They will be releasing their first full-length album, Catacomb Party, on August 7th, 2012 via Paper Garden Records.

Fierce Creatures' bio notes that the band “emerged from the scorching Fresno, CA summer of 2009.” This sentence is initially surprising as you normally don't associate Fresno with experimental psych rock (agriculture and a high murder rate would be top contenders), but the heat reference rings true. Fierce Creatures sophomore album Catacomb Party sounds like it was either written in a cave as the title suggests, or in an air conditioned oasis, taking refuge from the heat beating outside. The vocals are often breathy, as if breathing heavily is too tiring, and the reverb-heavy instrumentation swirls in a like a thick mist or waves. The psychedelic music either sounds like what's going on in your mind mid-trance, or what you're dreaming about mid-nap on a 100+ July afternoon. So basically a mix between Animal Collective and The Beach Boys with João Gilberto as spiritual forefather, which is just fine by us.

Title track “Catacomb Party” begins as a fairly straightforward rock song with a steady beat and light hearted lead guitar line, then blurs, as if hit with a giant mister when the verse kicks in with its lazily scratchy vocals and dreamy backup singing. As the song heats up in the latter half it does feel like a catacomb party, a secret get together you stumbled upon that Fierce Creatures are generous enough to let you sit in on. As elsewhere on the album, Fierce Creatures manage to pull off a bombastic Muse style sound, but do still keep it low key, which seems like an oxymoron but somehow works. “Lover's Vice” is all pink waves of subtly jazzy guitar and earnest vocals before darting into an energetic romp, lovely stuff.

Catacomb Party is a dense album, filled to the brim with ideas and effects, styles and shifts. At times sensual, energetic, blissed-out, relaxed, it's an ambitious album pulled off with skill.