Picture the scene. You’re down at the Horse and Morrissey, your local indie disco. The floors are sticky. The snakebites are flowing. Suddenly, there it is: Love Will Tear Us Apart. Sure, you’re drunk. You have a little dance; you fling your arms around your friends and spill rum and coke all over your Converse. But part of you feels disappointed. Has nobody come up with an indie disco hit since 1980? Sure, there’s Mr Brightside and Sex On Fire but they lack the punch and let’s be honest, the cowbells.
Step forward Funeral Party. On the face of it the California natives don’t look like the kind of guys who would get a party started. For one they’re named after a wake (think about it), for two they’re into metal. And thirdly, they throw mad ass warehouse parties attended by punks, skaters and reprobates. So how have they moved from punk to funk?
Firstly with the help of Mars Volta engineer Lars Stalford. Secondly with the help of the aforementioned cowbells. From the albums opening New York Moves To The Sound of LA the stage is set. The cowbells are being whacked so hard they make a sound like a farmyard run by the guy from Saw, the guitars are being thrashed and phasers are set to !!! via The Rapture.�You’ll be hard pressed not to start screaming “House Of! Jealous Lovers!” but even so the sound is so much fun that you can imagine it kicking off a thrashing flailing pit in a festival tent over the summer. Finale starts with the kind of circling guitars that mosh pits are made of and builds to a clattering funky-punky beat that sounds like James Brown is throwing himself over and over again into a drum kit. Meanwhile the shouty, echoey vocals sound like they should be being screamed through a megaphone “You are young so am I” is a refrain that’s destined to be screamed from the bottom of festival goers’ lungs into the balmy Reading/ Glasto/ Leeds night.
The problem is that much of the album lacks the same amount of thrust. Halfway through you realise that lead singer Chad Elliot has the same raspy voice as the Stereophonics‘ Kelly Jones. Once this has dawned on you every song begins to sound like the ‘Phonics embracing a slightly more dancey sound (a bit like they did on Dakota) and this makes the album fall flat. Relics To Ruins is somewhat turgid as a result, and after a while starts to sound like The Script who no one wants to party with.�It’s like when you go to a really great rave, you’re nice and pumped and then someone puts on a really rubbish tune and you suddenly deflate.
Some good moments then, but overall Funeral Party fail to keep the energy levels up. You get the sense that in a live arena they would blow all comers away, but on record there seems to be something missing.�If this really was a party you’d probably make your excuses and call a cab early.