Boomkat Product Review:
The fact that Late Of The Pier's hotly anticipated debut album starts off like a Brian May harmonised guitar part is one thing, but the fact that this looped stadium rock indiscretion makes up the entirety of their opening, introductory track is quite another. Thankfully, by the time the outrage and incredulity sets in, it's all over and you're pelted by the ambitious and more than a little bit brilliant 'Broken', which casts the band as Parlophone's prospective replacement for Radiohead as the label's freakishly progressive, sonically inventive rock band. Indeed, in the wake of nu-rave, Klaxons and so on, it'd be easy to consider this lot as the next logical step for on-trend, thoughtful indie rock. Be warned though, there's still a very real sense that the margin between 'Space And The Woods' and Basshunter is a very narrow one indeed. Were it not for the Gary Numan verse riffs, the tasteful sound engineering and a bit of empty blather about suicide, you'd have a fairly naff bit of synth pop on your hands. Fortunately, that song only grazes the periphery of what this band are capable of; 'Random Firl' reveals a dizzyingly articulate pop sensibility, and 'The Enemy Are The Future' harbours evidence of a well-understood Bowie influence, elaborating on that starting point with complex electronic arrangements that move from futuristic, neon-tinted indie rock to programmed, heavily compressed 4/4 structures without too much fuss being expended. 'Focker' might be an allusion to Alter Ego's 'Rocker' - the sonic palette is certainly in line with that, and the tone of the song is very much a case of Judas Priest-for-people-who-like-Kitsune. Similarly, 'Whitesnake' (in keeping with its billing) goes a bit '80s metal in certain respects, but ultimately channels the spirit of Sparks instead. Whether Fantasy Black Channel is really any good or not remains to be seen; you'll have to give it at least a fortnight for it to go slightly out of fashion and then the real assessment can begin. Right now, for every bit of creative ingenuity on this album there's something to irritate - usually stemming from the sense of box-checking smugness that permeates the band's ranks. On paper at least, though, this is a brilliant record.