All revivals have a falloff period, where the momentum slows and the filter widens to let in all sorts of drudgery and sap. We seem to have hit this point in rock. The Strokes excited a certain thirst for vintage, an all-encompassing search for Billy Idol T-shirts and White Light/White Heat vinyl. But the storm has been quelled somewhat, leaving us music fans to sift through the paltry imitators like Jet and the Thrills. Thankfully, the media attention has imbued New York City with another life, one that has produced a string of news-worthy debut bands. One of these is the Fever, whose Pink on Pink EP scorches the listener’s eardrums.
At first glance, the Fever seems to have paid too close attention to mainstream trends. Their cover is all ’80s op-art and style, and once flipped, reveals that the album contains a cover of Sheila E.’s “Glamorous Life.” But once the laser hits the CD, all assumptions are blown away with the first vibrato of Sanchez Esquire’s furiously-scaled guitar. “Ponyboy” comes through the speakers, syncopated off its ass and layered with dizzying guitar lines. What seals this pot of fire is the voice of Geremy Jasper, a screaming banshee of a man whose indecipherable lyrics thrill and hype the track’s energy even further. The true feat in this track lies in the fact that, chaotic as it seems, there is taut song structure here, complete with a suave bridge and walking bass.
The Fever not only has a tremendous, larger-than-life EP on their hands, but also has managed to suffuse Pink On Pink with defining characteristics. Rock critics will have a hard time making the ubiquitous Strokes comparison here; the Fever has tried and succeeded in forging a new vintage-rock sound stamped with their own powerful message. The two standouts, “Ladyfingers” and “Bridge and Tunnel,” have tight drumming, throbbing bass, and beach-style staccato keyboards. “Bridge and Tunnel” lives up to its lyrics: “I’ve got your song stuck in my head like a knife”; Jasper tames his voice to create a hook of a melody, his vocals moving above Esquire’s shrill guitar and the rhythmic bass. By the time the band is repeating the title with the drums rolling military-style towards a climax, the Fever has all but claimed your heart and soul.
It’s an ambiguous sound, and it’s hard to vocalize just exactly why it works. But it does. Pink on Pink, with its scorched-earth vocals, thumping drum and bass, and echoing keys and guitar, is one of the most exciting debuts from a band to hit the New York City streets since a certain Gang of Five. The fact that these boys are even more exciting live than on wax only proves their talent. In five years, the Darkness may be forbade permission to land, but the Fever will still be spreading heat waves of fury throughout the airwaves.