When a band gets Jeff Goldblum to do a cameo on one of their songs, they must have two qualities: a) creative minds, and b) a great sense of humor. Reni Lane and Anna Noreen of Fever High have both in spades. The Brooklyn-based duo are retro-fying synth-pop and New Wave to their early days while infusing some surprising elements. The result is their debut album, FHNY, which is unquestionably one of 2017’s most entertaining and fun albums. It is also one of the most creative.
The record commences with the dance-floor banger, “Spy”, an exhilarating, get-up-on-your-feet piece of ’80s synth-pop. Fever High’s creativity, however, isn’t limited to the outrageously catchy melody and beats; it also extends to their lyrics. On this track, they resurrect ’60s espionage movies and TV shows, although this song feels more like Get Smart than the 007 franchise.
“I am a spy, and I’ve come to spy on you
Every night I watch you in your sleep
Gamma eyes see what I can’t see
Every hour, each and every day
You can try to shake me
But you can never get away.”
The hook-laden melodies and quirky storylines fill the entire album. On “Good Advice”, Fever High strip back the instrumentation and deliver one groovy number. Lane and Nordeen’s harmonies are ear candy, and their lyrics are empowering. In their sweet and gentle way, they basically tell anyone wanting to offer unsolicited advice to take a hike. Meanwhile, Jeff Goldblum offers a bizarre but amusing anecdote, using the example of buying clothes as how people like to give their two cents. For instance, he “recounts” a salesperson suggesting he pair indigo shirts with two vests but then shares his “fetish-istic convictions on how I like to tie my tie.”
The grooves keep coming. The closer, “In The Basement”, is a funky, disco jam with a story to match, as the duo sing about the secretive, underground parties of the ’70s. Even funkier is “That’s So Typical” that could be a Prince-produced Sheena Easton tune. A bubbly, head-waving vibe filters through “All Work”, which is a clever tale about a man named Kevin who works all day and does very little in the way of fun. There is no shortage of amusement nor innovation on FKNY.
Fifties pop is channeled on the hand-clapping “Casting My Spell”. The piano- and organ-driven melody is an unexpected change of pace, but the retro, Grease-like feeling is infectious. This would be a great song to play at a wedding. Conversely, Lane and Nordeen make fun of guys who try to act cool around the ladies on the Paula Abdul-like “Boys”. Behind the scenes, you can hear the two laughing at the guys who get tongue-tied around them, saying, “Spit It Out”. It’s another another fun, ’80s-inspired number that would be perfect on one of the decade’s coming-of-age movies.
“If there is something I should know
You should let your feelings show
If you want me tell me now
Spit it out
Spit it out.”
But of course, these guys are probably just “Tantalized”, making it difficult for them to say anything. This smooth synth-pop track is another that could be on the soundtrack to Pretty in Pink, Weird Science, or Earth Girls Are Easy (that’s a Jeff Goldblum movie, for those who missed it).
For all the fun and games, Fever High show a different side with “One of the Guys”. Darker and more brooding than anything else on the album, the tracks pulsates like songs that would have filled Central European night clubs three decades ago. It is also one of the more introspective songs, as the duo discuss how they just want to be treated equally and fairly. But with an album as outrageously smart and entertaining, everyone else will soon be trying to catch up to Fever High.
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