Music News

Subtropical Spin

My, my, my. South Florida, give it up to the Fluent. Here's a young band actually -- thankfully -- doing something different and doing it damn well. I imagine that the four Fort Lauderdale teenagers' thinking process behind Apartments, their debut EP, went like this: Dude, dance punk is too, like, danceable. And straight emo is pretty lame-o. Cranky guitars, anxious beats, and quick, climactic builds are cool, but the kids don't listen unless you scream and shit. Why don't we turn up the volume, get sorta funky with analog synths and handclaps, and wail like Frank Black with a botched tracheotomy?

Or something.

The point is, what they came up with is a witty, aggressive, viscous oil slick of contrasting post-punk influences. Early '80s Wire, mid-'90s Pixies, and this morning's the Used all bubble up, taking turns bashing your skull, yelling in your ear, and almost -- almost -- shaking your ass. In a brainy tête-à-tête, guitars and keys pivot, singing and screaming intertwine. Where the self-titled opener and "The Great Arsonist" work the catchy jangle-punk, "One More Uprising" mixes the melodic with the manic, and "Warning Bells" just drags you down a dark alley and roughs you up good. I keep replaying the disc because it's so short and sweet. Apartments is the best debut from a SoFla band in far too long.

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Jonathan Zwickel