Score: 8.5/10


THE FUNS were classified as “punk” as Bandcamp, which is beyond undoubtedly a severe misnomer, as their lengthy, multilayered songs stretch out into something way more creative and rewarding than power chords and moshing. Still, I’m definitely not complaining that I found them on the recent “punk”wave (the six-minute length of opener “ENEMY” was sort of a giveaway that they weren’t just a bratty also-ran) and right away the big, boisterous guitar sound invited me in and beckoned me to sit back with a coffee on this cold day, even if one of the riffs did remind me a lot of Soundgarden’s “Head down.”

Of course, Bandcamp had to make a big deal of the fact that they’re from basically the middle of nowhere, New Douglas, Illinois. Well, look on the map: it’s not exactly light years away from St. Louis, flanking the rough, deteriorated Eastern suburbs but set off far enough that they can actually get some thinking done without getting capped (to say nothing of their concentration being broken by noises or not).

Apropos of how this is essentially a St. Louis band, as I’m going to call them, albeit one not pretentious enough to call the city their home but do all their songwriting at large (I’ve been waiting for another one of these since Living Things [1]), on track three “FORGET ME NOT” singer Jessee Rose Crane builds to a nice energy plateau for the chorus, like she usually does, sounding sort of like Karen O on heroin in a good way (or Victoria Legrand NOT on heroin, maybe). Anyway, the main theme of the song goes“Oversaturated by the constant… things” and I wanted her so badly to say “by the constant… heat.” Ok, I’m just going to give you a little geographic tidbit here, since seeing as I live right up the road in Terre Haute Indiana it unfortunately pertains to my life too: this little triangle of Terre Haute, Champaign, Illinois and St. Louis absolutely, positively has the hottest summers in the entire nation. Every single time I looked at the weather this summer, our heat index was higher than that in Phoenix. Every time. Our heat index reached 105 on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day – a clean sweep. Now, these millennials, I know, have this thing where they want to be tough, and not complain. Where’s the slackerdom in that? Back in my day we’d bit** if the A.C. was off by a degree in the café while we were smelling sex and candy.

Ok, I’m rambling here. Long story short: this is a great rock album, with a sound that’s amazingly full given that THE FUNS are only a duo, and one that provides a vital methodological variety from track to track, like a fuzzy, psychedelic Black Mountain reimagining of Band of Skulls. “I CAN DREAM” is the slow, lazy and psychotic industrial of Mellon Collie-era Smashing Pumpkins, sitting at under two minutes like a fertile jam session sadistically truncated. “ENTITY” shows off the band’s knack for two-part rhythm guitar, a pristine Real Estate-type twee pop part tipping things off, only to be sweltered back by a dirge-y plunge into distortion a la Weezer – “Beverly Hills” [2] (oh yeah I went there). This harsh guitar sound, then, makes for the perfect contrast against Crane’s singing voice, which seems preternaturally focused on this project and nonplussed by unnecessary melodrama.

Now, I’m not giving this band a 10: nobody would confuse them with Rush in terms of technical skill and sometimes the drummer can be a tad bit off the beat. But this is a fun album that seems catered to a certain universality, as if poised to satiate the needs of everybody’s frustrations, not just the hopeless romantics or the busy-bodies. The strange title, delicacy and inflected vocal of “FUR CUP” will give you every impression that stripped down to vocal and acoustic, ALIENATED could qualify as a bona fide singer-songwriter project, excepting some valuable and vital sonic ambitions on the band’s part, which are considerable indeed. Her voice seems to undulate between the grandeur of Erika Wennerstrom and the empty, unstable sexuality of Liz Phair all over this project, making for a consistently rewarding listen.

And why alter a concoction that’s giving off this much fragrance? THE FUNS are every bit what they claim to be, at least for now.
[1] Don’t sleep on Living Things: that Ahead of the Lions album has some listenable cuts on it (“I Owe”;“New Year”; “No New Jesus”; “Keep it ‘Til You Fold”).

[2] Sorry if this nullifies all my street cred but I still love this song, the sound and the wah-wah guitar solo… very much looking forward to The Black Album.

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