Fuck Buttons: Slow Focus (ATP Recordings)

DL/LP/CD

Out Now

8/10

The magnificent Fuck Buttons take things slowly. It’s been four long years since their much lauded second album, but finally it’s follow up is about to get a general release. We’ve had a pre-release copy for some time now and have been bursting to tell y’all how good it is. Today we got the go ahead to do just that – so here’s our review.

Since the release of 2009’s Tarot Sport, Fuck Buttons public profile has risen sharply. Not only due to the greatness displayed on the aforementioned album, but due to their involvement in the fantastic spectacle that was the London Olympics opening ceremony.

Due to this raised profile, you would be forgiven for believing that the duo would smooth their sound out to capitalize on this, but you would be sorely mistaken….

Opener Brainfreeze kicks things off with tribal drumming on an Olympic scale (see what I did there) witch underpins layers and layers of feedback, squall, and white noise. When you reach the four minute mark you will be screaming either for relief or to be taken higher and higher and although this is a distinctly ‘noise’ track, there is an overlaying of anthemic qualities and a clubbing vibe. This should really be heard in a club and if you submit to it, it is actually quite a toe-tapper.

If brainfreeze actually felt as intense and euphoric as this then the entire nation would be slamming slush puppies down their necks to recreate the unbelievably uplifting sensation that this track delivers in spades.

Brainfreeze then segues straight into Year of the Dog. Dog is pure sci-fi techno which contains some gorgeously uneasy synth lines that can invoke the same sensation as seeing Giger’s facehuggers for the first time. Dog also contains a slowly revving up and back down sub-bass which pops into your ears like a malevolent force resting on your shoulder. Disconcerting and thoroughly engrossing, Year of the Dog is the soundtrack to your nightmares and is also extremely cathartic.

First single, The Red Wing is up next and is probably the closest Fuck Buttons have got to a ‘mainstream’ hit. Wing is full of b-boy strut and swagger and resembles the sound an unholy alliance between Paul’s Boutique-era Beastie Boys and Merzbow. This track contains more attitude and self belief than Liam Gallagher with a face full of gack.

 

Sentinents then shifts gears completely. The strut is gone and is replaced by Throbbing Gristle death party sounds. Kraftwerk-like vocals flitter in and out but this is not man-machine incarnate. This is the sound after Skynet lost it’s marbles and wiped most of the human race out, whilst retaining some to serve their desires. When, near the end, a beautiful motif enters the fray, it lifts the mood remarkably making us happy to kneel and serve. An outstanding track and album highlight.

After the greatness of Sentinents, Prince’s Prize follows and is the only misjudged track on the album. Coming across like an industrial Motown and the purple one’s late eighties period, the track doesn’t quite feel fully formed yet it does provide a welcome lightness back in after what has proceeded it.

Penultimate track Stalker returns us back to the sci-fi / horror vibe and has an intro which resembles an updated version of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 OST. As Stalker breathes and develops, it introduces random hip-hop style time signatures which give the track a swing, although it’s a swing you really wouldn’t let your child on.

Closer, Hidden XS returns us to the cocksure attitude of Red Wing but this time it’s serious. Noise builds on noise and the track will leave the listener with an urge to head out into the British summer’s rain screaming in exhausted ecstasy. Magic.

Slow Focus is the sound of a group who are oozing confidence. They may have taken bits of ‘mainstream’ music into their gorgeous stew but they have not lost any of their identity and what made them great in the first place. A dark and majestic dance album (honestly, lots of these tracks would get the right club crowd moving), this is a triumphant return.

Highly recommended.

For more information about Fuck Buttons & to keep up to date with their movements either visit their website, their page on ATP Recordings website or check them out on Facebook, Twitter.

All words by Simon Tucker. More of Simon’s Louder Than War’s writings on Louder Than War can be found here.  Simon can also be found on twitter @simontucker1979.

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