Family Force 5 – Dance or Die
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
Release Date: August 19, 2008
Even though Family Force 5 may be the musical equivalent of mixing Mentos and Coke – lots of build up for something that only ever happens one way – I find myself oddly pleased with Dance or Die. Yes, in this case the album title says it all. There are plenty of inventive beats and, well, blatant references to shakin’ what yo momma gave you (assuming you’re not an orphan!). Soul Glow Activatur still screeches and groans his way through lyrics that aren’t super smart or super dumb. He’s a character leading characters (like Xanadu, who doesn’t even play an instrument) and Dance or Die feels theatrical in it’s over-the-top-ness. But as I said, it’s fulfilling and even a bit more grown up than Business Up Front… I still have to be weary of where and for whom I play FF5; however, I also think more and more people will finally spit out their Haterade and go with the flow.
Dance Or Die spends most of its time blasting out grungy beats and southern rock-amplified guitars. A band dressed in pant suits and stunna shades may seem to have forgotten their Georgian roots, but their down home upbringing continually pops up in the brick-breaking riffs of “Wake The Dead” and “Radiator.” Soul Glow’s grating voice will require some audible training on the listener’s part, but once he clicks, well, he’ll have you eating delicious waffles out of his Hulk-sized hand. Also making a very noteworthy appearance are the (expected) electronic-driven songs. I don’t know if I want to stylishly groove or headbutt something when the warped guitars and zinging synths of “Fever” smash down. “The First Time” and its button-pressing beeps sounds like a b-side from the previous album. Its glorious verse build-up is a welcomed addition to FF5’s formula. The song fights the urge to become too loud while its chorus may help them make the leap to mainstream alt-rock radio.
“How In The World” and “Share It With Me” are both fairly subdued, especially for these guys. 80’s style synth notes weave in and out while Soul Glow drops lyrics (in T-Pain voice, no less) like, “If you were here with me right now / I don’t know what I’d do.” They’ve either written a love song or a creepy worship song. I can never tell. “Share It With Me”’s piano and drum intro is a nice, calm change of pace. This song also features melodic singing and a mission to chill us out rather than jazz us up. Both songs work, if only because they are unexpected. Their placement on the album helps to break up the usual FF5 fare - “Party Foul” is so cluttered I almost had a panic attack, for example. Still, Dance or Die is truly an audience-widening album.
You don’t know it yet, but this is your favorite album of the year. Get over yourself; Iron and Wine stole their lyrics from some dead poet. Brand New sneezed on a napkin and it happened to look like a chord progression (they then recorded “Guernica”). Family Force 5 do furniture commercials, play video games, and occasionally write songs about raves and shit. You can obviously listen to whatever you like, but why wouldn’t you throw this in the rotation every once in a while?
Recommended If You Like: 3OH!3, Alien Ant Farm, Sinestro, Switchfoot meets Tenacious D meets Chromeo, Mephisto
I interviewed Chapstique at Toronto warped and he said Radiator is like the "Luv Addict" of DoD.
I'll give it a listen, this stuff is so over the top it's hard to take it seriously though but it's fun to listen to. Saying that I really don't think they take themselves too seriously either[they like to have fun pretty much].