Maybe it should be said as a precursor to this review that I’m a complete sucker for most of what the music world likes to call “shoegaze,” so it goes without saying that I was an enormous fan of both of this Bay Area band’s previous full-length albums, even though they often veer into retro ’80s dance pop kind of territory, which I typically loathe. If I were to theorize as to the nature of this general incongruence, I’d say it’s probably due to the subtle levels of loosely feedbacking guitar constantly populating the periphery of these songscapes.

 

I’ve often joked that maybe a better term for this kind of stuff would be “sexgaze”; back in my single days, albums by say, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, or old The Verve discs would be roughly my first choice of background music in the game of seduction. Worked like a charm nearly every time. Now that I’m married, I don’t find it coincidental that the aforementioned bands, along with Seattle’s unquestionably brilliant Voyager One, also happen to rank among my wife’s favorites. The vibe just goes hand-in-hand with making out and picturing yourself floating away into the eternal ether.

With Fission, Film School has decided to tone down the waves of droning echo to make a more “adult” album, which can be expected from a band toiling away in relative obscurity for the better part of a decade. Maybe it’s their attempt to finally reach a wider audience or something. Typically, I would call complete bullshit on nearly any band attempting anything similar, but the fact of the matter is, Film School has kind of upped things on the songwriting front to compensate for their more restrained use of effects pedals — and you just can’t argue with cool songs. It’s a dancier, poppier, more electronic type of feel, but one that ultimately works most of the time. Their increased use of female vocals definitely adds to the album’s overall efficacy. If I had to rate their full-lengths, this would be the weakest, but that’s more a commentary on the strength of their back catalog than anything else. It’s close, for sure.

Listen to “Heart Full Of Pentagons” – DOWNLOAD MP3

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