REVIEW: Family Force 5 – III

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Artist: Family Force 5
Album: III
Genre: Rock/Crunk/Punk/Pop
Label: Tooth and Nail/III Entertainment

Earlier this year, I reviewed a three-song EP that acted as a preview for this full length release. Unsurprisingly enough, the complete album III bears little divergence from its sample – it’s still catchy as hell, filled with dancehall beats, slick and groovy. It’s sure to at least win some appreciative nods if not a full on toe-tapping refrain, and will serve anyone in search of some decent rhythm well.

“Can You Feel It” is not, as I had half wondered, a Jackson Five cover – with the proliferation of cover albums I’ve recently reviewed I was convinced FF5 might have decided to take a similar route. It is, however, an opener with intent – ambitious, rousing, and stirring, with an incendiary bass line and harangued club beat. The vocals are suitably frenzied during the chorus, matching the waves of energetic hysteria petering through the music, and it provides a raucous and vivacious introduction to the record. “Paycheck” opens slick and steady. It has an edge and terrific percussion work, falling hard on the r’n’b side of the fence with tongue-in-cheek vocals and a cacophony of clashing rhythms underpinning the vox. The chorus briefly shakes things up, giving everything a slightly poppier, soaring vibe, and there’s a brief boisterous breakdown before they revisit the minimalism of their opening beat.

“Wobble” and “You Got It” both featured on the EP delivered earlier this year, and slot neatly in with the other tracks. The overall sense is one of grimy, swaggering rhythm and the band stay mostly true to the promise offered by these sneak peeks.

That said however, there are a few slightly different approaches showcased in the full length. “Mamacita,” as the name suggests, takes some Latin music archetypes (a longing guitar twang takes centre stage) and mixes them up with more rhythmic musings to create a heated, intensive track. It’s slower and uses a heavier bass and more backing harmonies, meaning it lacks the kind of involving beat that pervades the others. The track does suffer a little from this, but only in that it’s not as immediately catchy. It picks up in its mid-section, brings in a fiery solo straight off the dance floor, and keeps things melodic and poppy through to its conclusion. “Not Alone” is another somewhat left-field choice. It’s more anthemic and has a big sound with slightly eerie and whining, plaintive instrumentation that’s heavily sampled. The harmonies are laid on thickly and the pacing is temperate – it’s a little difficult to take seriously, but a glossy enough effort that distracts temporarily from the dance sensibility elsewhere.

“Dang Girl” was also featured on the sampler. It uses an infectious sample to lay the base for a sluggish, if engrossing, track. It feels urban, dirty, and thrill-seeking and maintains the fierce attitude well. “Love Gone Wrong” is more of a vamped up pop song. It does a kind of play on the old-fashioned power ballad with the massive percussion and throbbing bass line. It’s very thumping and gnarly, improving somewhat with its transformation in the chorus into something staccato and edgier. “Get On Outta Here” is a splendid conclusion. It’s forceful and infectious, insistently tunnelling into your psyche with a dirty and glamorous beat and pompous vocal stylings.

III is a winning club record thus, catering specifically to those who want to bop idly without really needing anything more profound in substance. It’s excellent at what it does and forges many a distinctive and absorbing track. One for energising and electricity.

SCORE: 8/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

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