Review

Fuck Yeah // Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus Review

It took me a while to appreciate Fuck Buttons last release, Tarot Sport, but once I just submitted and gave it a listen I was inevitably reeled in by its endless, hammering walls of synth. They may have a slightly crap name but dear god do they dominate pounding electro. Now, after a four year wait for the follow up to Tarot Sport, the duo have returned with their darkest, heaviest, most explosive release yet.

Album opener Brainfreeze begins the upcoming electronic maelstrom with a typical slow-building drone that builds to a thunderous climax. The difference on Slow Focus is that it starts off big, heavy and absolutely awesome and just keeps going from there. If anything, on this release the only respite comes at the end of each track.

Like the rest of their work it’s entirely instrumental and really needs to be experienced as a whole. Listening to individual tracks is fine, they’re all more than able to hold up on their own, but when listened to as part of the whole album they form an entirely different experience.

Sprawling, epic and apocalyptic in scope, the album really is an ‘experience’, pretentious as that may sound. The album is like a drugged out car trip through some dystopian world of neon and granite. The music is as tough as it is brilliantly, relentlessly, propulsive. Those futuristic, ominous nightclubs in films where everyone is doing all the drugs and all the lens flare play music like this. Basically, it’s bloody awesome.Lea d single, well, ‘single’(they made a video for it), The Red Wing is 7 minutes of droning, pounding, throbbing dance that sounds like it should be accompanied by slow-mo shots of Ryan Gosling hurting people. Obviously that makes it an album highlight.

It also means that Slow Focus accomplishes what even the almighty rulers of the ridiculously epic instrumental, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, couldn’t on their last album: sustaining drone music and general filler. Here the filler is so good that it’s an injustice to even call it filler.

The second half of the album slackens a bit compared to the absolutely sensational opening but it is nonetheless some of the absolute best music I’ve heard all year. It retains that distinctive Fuck Button vibe of being at once cinematic yet infectiously dance, but made into an apocalyptic nightmare of synths.

Where Tarot Sport could lose you after the first 20 minutes, Slow Focus’ atmosphere of latent menace and awesome oppressiveness retains as firm a stranglehold over your ears from its explosive start to the foreboding finish. And at under an hour they also exercise a restraint with regards to their run time that is admirable in the often overwrought, overlong realm of the instrumental.

The formula remains fundamentally the same – get the heaviest, darkest synths you can find and then pound all of them at once – but they manage to mix it up sufficiently on the percussion side of things, and by throwing in the odd tasteful howling guitar every now and again, that it avoids feeling like a re-tread of previous work. Tonally the sound is obviously much changed, but these incremental differences at the micro level really showcase the duo’s development.

Slow Focus is a sublime development of the work began on Tarot Sport. So often bands talk up their new ‘dark’ release and deliver a re-hash of what came before with the occasional grimy moment thrown in; here Fuck Buttons deliver on that claim with their finest work yet and one of the finest releases of the year so far. Daft Punk may rule the airwaves this summer, but Fuck Buttons have quietly released the real electro album of the year.

A

Listen to:

Brainfreeze, The Red Wing, Stalker

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