Isn’t one genre enough anymore? These days it seems everything is pop-punk or dance-punk or rap-rock or alt.country or — you get the point. Why can’t bands just stay in their own damn corners? Sure, melding genres has provided some memorable trends, but bands that tend to work within one umbrella genre — say, rock — tend to have greater success. Stray stylistically a little, sure, but please — rap-rock is a sin against nature.
Recorded as one continuous piece, Amusement Parks on Fire’s eponymous debut dabbles in the finer elements of rock. Above all, sole songwriter and recorder Michael Feerick — he played every instrument here — fixates on 1980s shoe-gaze, a genre that’s seeing a recent resurgence with bands such as Autolux, the Radio Dept. and Asobi Seksu pointing heads downward. Throughout the marathon of tracks, shredding guitars layer his bellowing vocals, with feedback bounding around in occasional tranquil moments. Lead single "Venus in Cancer" reels on the brink of a frenzied anthem, if only we could make out Feerick’s charged yet subdued vocals.
Yet in the other corner of Amusement Parks on Fire’s ring of influence is a dangerous tendency toward emo. Maybe it’s because Feerick is only at the tender age of twenty, or maybe it’s because he writes lyrics such as "All you ever knew is what they sold you." Still, Feerick is better versed in the overwhelming power of loud-as-fuck then many at were that age. And he’s smart enough to keep the vocal track in remission.
Said interludes give the record an accomplished pace, but Feerick proves himself an adept musician all around. With his heavy drumming recalling Dave Grohl’s finer moments, lush piano and strings draw you into the beauty of his noise. Halfway through his opus, "Asphalt" knocks you out with rings of feedback vibrating around desolate piano.
Feerick was discovered by Geoff Barrow, Portishead maestro, and he quickly released this album in the United Kingdom last year to little fanfare. But it’s been slowly building up a buzz. I doubt the masses will flock to this — there’s a low ceiling for music this indirect. But perhaps what NME has dubbed "nu-gaze" be about as big as shoe-gaze was in its heyday. And if it is, I’ll bet Feerick’s ability to blend numerous styles will launch him to the center of the revival.