On Concentrate, staying focused is very hard to do. That is not a bad thing.
The Happy Fits' latest musical outing, Concentrate, finds the New Jersey-based band significantly stretching new musical muscle from their EP Awfully Apeelin'. They adopt a looser, garage rock structure and successfully weave in out of tempos, often in the same song. The intricate harmonies found on Awfully Apeelin' remain, belted with even more aplomb and vigor.
The Happy Fits take the best parts of the Black Keys, White Stripes, Lumineers, and Kaiser Chiefs, and mash them into a delightful sonic puree that retains the group's distinctly original sound.
Calvin Langman (vocals, cello), Ross Monteith (vocals, guitar), and Luke Davis (drums, percussion) are a tight and talented trio; they continue to find new ways to quickly shift musical gears without losing a single beat or leaving a note behind.
Concentrate opens with the raucous "Achey Bones," followed by equally up-temo rockers "Best Tears" and "So Alright, Cool, Whatever." It is not until four songs in, on the tender "Reason for Dreaming," that the music lets listeners catch their breath. But not for long.
"Grow Back" finds Langman channeling his inner Jack White in a mid-tempo thumper that builds steam as it reaches the chorus, highlighted by a wailing, distorted guitar solo. The song successfully utilizes the soft-loud-soft dynamic perfected by aforementioned former White Stripes frontman; "Mary" follows a similar path without sounding like a recycled outtake.
Lyrically, Concentrate contains the weight and wit of songwriters twice the band's age. "Hungry People," has Langman working Versace and Calvin Klein into a catchy, sing-a-long chorus and musical room-shaker which pokes fun at high-end fashion culture.
On "Heart of a Dancer," Langman testifies that he was born with boogie in his soul, even if it means making a believer out of Jesus; a stunningly well-crafted tune that will also make a believer out of you.
Concentrate is well-balanced and full of heart and grit. The Happy Fits rearrange the kitchen sink without tossing it out the window.