Swedish/American four piece FEWS are about to be let loose over their debut full length Means. After the release of previous singles ‘The Zoo’ and ‘III’ — subsequently picked up by producer Dan Carey who also worked on the record — there’s a lot to be maintained over the course of these ten tracks, where guitar driven scuzziness promises to be played and experimented with, but is yet to be seen.
The four piece — comprised of members located across oceans: fellow guitarist David and drummer Rasmus based in Sweden, lead vocalist Fred hailing from San Fransisco and new found bassist currently residing on a boat in London — it comes as no surprise that perhaps the distance between them leaves Means feeling a little disjointed. Where opener ‘I.D.’ clutches at a fresh take on indie/noise rock, with it’s industrialised synth fx juxtaposing the darkness of twanging guitars that filters through into the racing pace of ‘The Zoo’ and ‘Drinking Games’. But here on after, FEWS draw on the successes of a front heavy record, falling into a formulaic cohesion riddled with racing drums, distorted guitars and droning vocals through the filler middle section that doesn’t draw on anything new.
Tracks like ‘10 Things’ and ‘If Things Go On Like This’ are TV soundtrack worthy, you could imagine them being played at the front end of some reality show hosted by Channel 4; or the mumbling vocals in the former being drunkenly sung along to in some grimy recess found in East London, even though you don’t actually know the words.
It’s as if the band are relying on ‘III’ to pull it all back together, which it certainly does. A ten-minute beast of a track that’s been re-mastered for Means sees the four-piece do what they promised from the opening of the record. They play and experiment with so many different ideas you’ll find yourself recognising odd refrains from other eras amalgamated to create this racing, instrumental piece.
Take the remnants of Joy Division-like bass lines sweeping through the latter half of ‘III’, or the jangling, lyric-less guitar melodies that appear trough the mid section, sounding like the rough and ready early days of Tall Ships placated by the chilling, progressive and yet sparse vocals transmitted from front man Fred. Work your way through to the futuristic synths at the five-minute mark and FEWS will have you gasping for more post-apocalyptic noisescapes than indie-pop vices, which unfortunately the album lacks. There’s a hedonistic approach to the closing of Means, one that should have been supported by the body of the record, but only upheld by a few stand out tracks.