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Posted June 16, 2008 by Mike Mineo in Features
 
 

The Type of Fling One Actually Remembers

A fling is usually regarded as a “play date” of sorts that is short, sweet, and emotionally irrelevant, usually done in order to satisfy certain needs that appear often to any sane individual. As long as neither partner is involved in some voluptuous affair, the effect can be surprisingly useful in reducing stress and even providing a bit of an ego boost for both parties involved. Though their music consists of numerous aspects that can be enjoyed and remembered for much longer than a few hours on some hazy Friday night, the sounds of The Fling bring a concisely excitable form of indie-rock to the table that makes the four-piece’s namesake appear wildly appropriate. They provide immediate satisfaction with an array of suavely executed hooks, all complemented by a familiarly invigorating fusion of varying styles that focuses as much on the past as it does on the present. To remain comparatively adjusted, a past lover with a new bag of tricks up their sleeve would be appropriate enough. With elements of classic ’60s pop, ’90s alternative, and contemporary indie-rock clashing fluidly to create a strangely nostalgic effect, their successes are moments that prove memorable even after a seemingly impenetrable hangover.

It would be easy enough to list influences like The Beatles, The Band, and The Pixies when attempting to describe The Fling, but an agenda arises when the focus shifts to comparisons on a song-by-song basis. Unlike the indie-rock norm, every song The Fling has released so far has exhibited a form of variety that makes one unified comparison impossible and consequently irrelevant. They all remain in the realm of throwback rock, pop, and folk, but the songwriting in itself showcases a variety of structural tendencies and revolving aspects of production that makes the cumulative listening experience vastly unpredictable. Based out of Long Beach, California, half of the band is comprised of the Lovelis brothers. Dustin provides guitars and Graham serves as the bassist, with both lending their zealous vocal deliveries to the final result. They were originally the only members, as The Fling was initially Dustin’s side project with Graham until the arrival of two key members in 2007. This period marked the introduction of guitarist Joel Bond and drummer  Justin Ivey to the fledging group, with the increase in instrumental dexterity signaling the band’s entry into a more expansive style. The four-piece recorded and produced their debut EP, Ghost Dance, in the following months. It was released in March of this year, one month before Bond left the group and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist Scotty Cantino.

Like many groups of a similar vein before them, The Fling’s decision to release a concise EP before a debut album mainly attributes to their personalized value of critical reception. Focusing all your funds and time towards a full-length that may falter considerably is a risky expenditure, so gaining a bit of experience before risking all of their chips should be a smart one for the California-based quartet. That being said, Ghost Dance is no lacking effort. It does an excellent job in showcasing the band’s potential, all contained within an illustrious style that serves the exuberant group well. They actually remind me a bit of the previously featured White Denim in several ways, both in their blend of throwback and contemporary styles of rock and folk and their intended method of distribution (a pick-your-flavor EP before an actual album). Also, like White Denim’s early output, a bunch of tracks on The Fling’s debuting EP are most certainly good enough to serve as standouts on an eventual album. “Lonely Fool” is one of them, featuring an electric guitar progression with tinges of folk and blues aided over a lyrical perspective that highlights the pitfalls of social anxiety. “‘Cause I don’t think I even wanna step foot outside today,” the brothers sing in near-unison, bringing shades of Supergrass into the mix. “‘Cause I don’t really want to see anyone.” The track is actually the most melodically simplistic on the EP, but that also allows it to be arguably the most accessible and instantaneously awarding.

The stylistically focused “Strange Ideas” is more efficiently demonstrative of the group’s creativity and lyrical scope, once again defined by impeccable dual vocal harmonies that glide seamlessly over the progression of a distorted guitar. The brothers do a commendable job of depicting unrequited emotions, surveying conventional reactions such as denial and false hope as the instrumental backdrop corresponds appropriately. “I don’t know where these strange ideas form, or do you feel it too?” they croon as a new progression with a heightened pitch ushers in the chorus, audibly echoing the increasing anxiety felt by the song’s protagonist. When they nearly literally compare false hope to “standing on the edge of the real thing” over the revolving shuffle of guitars, the song reaches its artistic peak due to the cohesive structural techniques that precede it. The EP’s opening track, “The Breaks”, adds a bit of country twang to The Fling’s previously notable incorporation of garage rock and folk. Led by percussive handclaps over an acoustic and twangy electric guitar, the decision to implement a harmonica at the conclusion of some extended verses proves to be a good one. Keep an eye out for this young four-piece. If Ghost Dance is any indication, they could be making a sudden surge like White Denim by year’s end.

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The Fling – Lonely Fool

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/fling-lon.mp3]

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The Fling – Strange Ideas

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/fling-str.mp3]

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The Fling – The Breaks

[audio:http://mineorecords.com/mp3/fling-bre.mp3]

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Mike Mineo

 
I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound. I used to write for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine. Send your music to [email protected].