Mod Cons is the debut album from Brisbane newcomers trio Fidel A Go Go. It’s a seven-track tour de force – equal parts hard rock and math-prog, down-tuned to a menacing roar. Three djentalmen giving it their all!
** edit – since writing the below, I have realised that the track order on Bandcamp is different to Spotify, which means references to track position (e.g. “opener Turbostein…”) may be incorrect **
Opener Turbostein is a counting exercise for masochists, should you be foolish enough try to decode it, or otherwise a fun experience in wrong-footed head-banging! Triplets over straight fours, short bars, shorter bars, heavy accents drop like bombs! The rhythmic intensity builds over a steady tempo and it’s done. Super solid introduction to the band and a showpiece for drummer Toby Aitken.
Turbostein is one of two instrumental tracks, along with Track 5 (Speechless – geddit?!) and these two are definite standouts for us. The complex interplay of guitars, drums and bass is more than enough substance for each song, and the presence of a vocal in either would undoubtedly shift the focus away from these elements, which would be a shame.
When the vocals do turn up (Track 2 – Holiday Special), they take the spotlight. Duncan Beale wields a light, agile tenor over a bluesy guitar/bass groove in the verses, switching effortlessly to a harsher, more aggressive tone for the chorus. His voice breaks up with ease, introducing a rough edge, bringing a classic 90s tone to mind (Alice in Chains!). This is a definite favourite, swinging from light to heavy between verse and chorus, and wedging a killer guitar solo into the end of the middle section. It’s first rate – eminently shareable and will undoubtedly attract attention on radio, playlists and podcasts.
Final track Fadings again sets up a relentless dark groove, combining insistent guitar lines with a drawn-out, reverb-soaked vocal. The middle section is a perfectly-timed shelter from the storm – the arrangement is stripped back to a filtered guitar paired with a sustained lead line and layered vocal harmonies, finally giving way to Knights of Cydonia-style guitar arpeggios (or is it JS Bach?!). I’m not sure who is playing what here (Beale or fellow guitarist Nigel Bishop), but both parts are accomplished and expressive, and the combined result is mesmerising. This is a great section, showing the range that the band can access, balancing out the brashness in tracks at the harder end of the spectrum (Bottle Rocket, White Water).
All in all, a remarkable debut but the depth of experience in this band is far beyond “first album” stage. The group take diverse influences and combine them into a unique sound, with the songwriting and performance skills to hold it all together. Stream it in all the usual places or, better yet, buy a copy on Bandcamp and provide the band with a year’s worth of streaming revenue in one go (and nothing for Applefy!). Catch them at Banshee’s (Ipswich) next Saturday 18 June.