With The Fierce And The Dead’s last studio recordings appearing in 2018, fans have had a long wait for the return of Rushden’s finest art rock band. It’s not that the band took a backseat, of course, but rather more that the world forced any momentum and creativity to grind to a halt.
Nevertheless, folks have been really keen for the band’s return, especially with various hints from inside sources and teasers suggesting that any forthcoming material would be as different from ‘The Euphoric’ as ‘The Euphoric’ had been from the career defining ‘Spooky Action’.
One of the biggest changes was to be the addition of a vocal. Would The Fierce And The Dead’s angular, instrumental noise actually work with a more conventional song structure? Would it sound like a different band? Would people even like it? For ages, it seemed as if there were more questions than answers.
‘Wonderful’ – the first taste of the “new” Fierce/Dead sound – has plenty that’ll allay any fears from unadventurous listeners. Firstly, there’s Kev’s heavy fuzz bass that kicks in immediately; there are droning sounds hark back to bits of previous albums, and there’s a real crunch that is certainly sympathetic to the band’s earlier, heavier side.
Beyond that, the three minutes whips up a whole world of sonic newness. The core bass line drops into a punchy post punk groove that sounds more like The Stranglers circa 1981; a sharp indie rock fuzz occasionally owes more to Blur’s noisier experiments on their self-titled album and an arty pop/rock heart – accentuated by Kev Feazey’s vocals – mixes traces of Cardiacs with more of a melodic rock charm.
It’s interesting how quickly a largely unfamiliar sound begins to feel natural, and the band’s confidence in this new musical direction shines through. During the track’s second half, the confident air is so massive, they’ve even taken to dropping in quirky time signatures akin to Knifeworld and a quirky sax that shows a great love for King Crimson.
…And yet, it somehow sounds greater than the sum of its influences – the work of a truly original band pushing forth and genuinely progressing. Whether you’re a long time supporter or the band are brand new to you, ‘Wonderful’ is the kind of recording that conveys musical hooks and energies that just keep giving.
Take a listen below.