Fuck Squad – ‘Welcome To The Bandstand!’ EP Review

Posted: by Nick

The immediate reaction to a band with the name Fuck Squad may be a giggle or a scoff or anything in between. Regardless of what form the reaction takes, the likely point is that there is one. It may then come as a surprise that this group puts forward none of the ploys for attention one might expect from a band whose name could have grandmas everywhere reaching for the soap and yelling “open wide!” Instead their music is thoughtful, intricate and uncompromising in its infectious energy. Welcome to the Bandstand! is both a show of force and a serene display of careful musical craftsmanship. Welcome indeed.

“Dances” eases us into the album, showing a group in no great hurry that still has plenty to say. The track features rapper Supe the Dude, whose flow is reminiscent of early jazz oriented hip-hop pioneers like Digable Planets. “In the words of the infamous Brookly-nite: fuhgeddaboutit” is an important reiteration, one that reflects the mood of this song and the record as a whole. This is a tune that could be dissected, or simply put on to help set the vibe for walk down a Brooklyn backstreet. In other words, there is quite a bit happening here but FS never go out of their way to demand the listener’s full attention. Instead they seem pleased to sit back and enjoy themselves. If you care to join, you’ll be welcome, if not- fuhgeddaboutit.

As it turns out, the hip-hop grooves of “Dances” show merely one of the forms this versatile group can assume. “No Grand Designs,” is an experimental track that calls up whirlwind dreamscapes of Darkside-era Pink Floyd – thanks in great part to the powerful vocals of Erin Pellnat – but has a modern urgency and menace that sets it apart from any obvious contemporary comparisons. The band’s start stop hits have a classic fusion feel, while the filtered bass-leads sound more like a deep and patient cut from the Funkadelic catalogue. “Real Nice Liar” continues this ineffable blend of jazz, funk, and psychedelic rock through a free-wheeling, stream of consciousness structure and playful use of effects. This track, the sole instrumental tune in the bunch, allows us to hear the individual voices of each musician, and how those voices blend together. Bassist Eva Lawitts is a player with immense control and dynamism, as comfortable with a growling blitz as she is with a meditative walk. Dylan Maida has ponderous, atmospheric approach on the keys that builds comfortably upon the stable and seemingly effortless foundation laid by drummer Bryan Framhein. 

The final track, “Beachcomber,” grants yet another glimpse of FS’s versatility as they are joined again by vocalist Nathan Campbell (of Brooklyn art-rock quartet Sister Helen). With references to Shakespeare and tastefully progressive passages and deviations, the closing movement of this EP blends riveting depth with inviting charm– completing the portrait of a band with a strong sense of identity and a capacity to appeal to casual and contemplative listeners alike. 

This EP does precisely what an EP should do: shows us what the group is capable of while leaving us wanting more. With the laid back virtuosity displayed on Welcome to the Bandstand! it will be exciting to watch as FS continue down the many roads already open to them, and to see which new paths they will uncover or blaze for themselves.

Score: 7.8/10