Album Review: Varsity — ‘Fine Forever’
Posted: by The Editor
Varsity’s new record, Fine Forever, assembles the strongest points of the bands discography for an infectious listen. Leaning more heavily into the softer, indie-pop flavor of 2018’s Parallel Person, the band has done a great job reigning in and balancing out driven riffs more similar to the self-titled debut. The bite is still there, but placed appropriately across the album.
The whole record has a familiar 70’s tone and structure. There are slick bass lines walking throughout, and the leads don’t feel oversaturated by too many effects. With a ton of brightness and compression, the music is a tightly stretched cord that rings with a velvet smoothness. The harmonies are spot on, the syllabic meter bounces well, and the vocal placement in the mix is astute. For that matter, the levels on the entire album are very balanced.
You can pick up a tangible mysticism from Fine Forever, from the symmetry and iconism of the main cover, to the possibly prophetic song, “Sicko World.” The drums on the title track practically live in the pocket, and the swing of the instrumental is hypnotic. There are plenty of pleasant minimalist moments, like in “The Memphis Group,” that make the record’s more complex choruses and bridges stand out. However, the dynamism in the songwriting structure gets washed by the consistency of similar guitar tones.
The album is definitely groovy. It’s the kind of music that rolls over the end credits to a highly saturated coming-of-age dramedy where the teens wear high waisted jeans, and you turn off the “autoplay” feature before the 5 seconds are up because you want to hear the rest of the song. It isn’t pursuing these explosive segments with higher gain or cluttered auxiliary instruments. The big moments are done with low frequency bass tones and synths that build a thicker foundation and wavelength. Varsity has spent the time polishing a record with producer Ben Lumsdaine, and emerged with a clean gleam like a sudden lens flare. Fine Forever is a summer album, a long drive on a state route with the windows down, a record spinning in someone’s family room or basement; the one with the shag carpet leftover from when the house was built in the 1960’s because they couldn’t be bothered to tear it up.
Luciano Ferrara // @LucianoRFerrara
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