<sup>Guest Blogger:</sup> Phenomenal Handclap Band – "Form & Control"
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Every year there’s always one release that becomes my soundtrack for the summer, above all others. A couple
of years ago, it was Passion Pit’s Manners, and to be honest that one got me through more than one summer. This year, it’s been Form & Control by Phenomenal Handclap Band, hands down.
This album, simply put, oozes summer vibes. That in itself is remarkable because it was actually released in the late winter, and was likely recorded starting in late autumn, but from the first track the listener is swept away to sunny islands, sandy beaches, and everything wonderful about the summer. Stylistically, there are hints of the Zero7 heyday (also a very summery sound), but there’s also great modern-meets-retro vibe that’s so very 2012. It’s a perfect recipe for a perfect hot day, and as such this album is probably not a great choice for background music at work, as you’ll feel instantly lazy and not want to get anything done.
The title track itself is enough to get you into a summer mood, no matter what time of year it is, and has a very trip-hop feel and a mellow groove. The following track, “Give,” couldn’t be more different. Featuring a dance beat and disco undertones, it’ll make you want to put on your roller skates and head down the boardwalk.
And so it goes on down the line, each song becoming surprise after surprise, almost like twelve little independent parcels of unique sounds. Oddly enough, however, the overall feel of the album is not adversely affected by this approach. These little parcels are constructed and ordered in such a way that the album has a strange cohesion that defies explanation. It’s almost like these are the different chapters or moods of summer, rather than an anthemic buy viagra online description of summer as a whole.
It’ll be interesting to see how well Form & Control holds up over the next few years. Sometimes these kinds of perfectly timed albums punctuate a particular year and are forever associated with it; other times the songs are able to transcend those boundaries and survive passing fashion. There’s a line in the track “All Clichés” – “If you ever feel that your best days are behind you / you’re probably right, they probably are,” but I have a sneaking suspicion that Phenomenal Handclap Band actually have quite a lot of great songwriting days ahead of them.