Sunday, 18 October 2015

Album Review: Fizzy Brain by Ducking Punches

Fizzy Brain is the brand new full length album from Norwich's five-piece folk band, the incredible Ducking Punches. To help fund the album Ducking Punches ran a very successful campaign on the Pledge Music website where they offered fans special exclusives for pledging. A portion of the money raised for the pledge went towards to charities - PAPYRUS and CALM. Two charities that help prevent suicide among young people and also assist those suffering with mental health issues. I am a big fan of Ducking Punches last album Dance Before You Sleep so was extremely excited to hear Fizzy Brain.

The first track on Fizzy Brain is called Greedy Bones and features none other than Mr Frank Turner. This song starts out with Ducking Punches leader Dan Allen's acoustic guitar before being joined by the rest of the band. It's a nice build to the first verse and then to a big chorus. Something that I've loved since Ducking Punches evolved into a full band project is bassist Sophie Porters beautiful harmonies and on Greedy Bones she gets a solo singing part which works brilliantly in the song, slowing things down before Dan's gruffer voice explodes for one final chorus. The next track has the same name as the album, Fizzy Brain. The song begins in a similar fashion to Greedy Bones with the acoustic guitar starting things out before the whole band (electric and bass guitars, drums and a violin) join in. The song goes along at a good tempo and has a good feeling of urgency throughout. The song is about alcohol messing with your head and turning you into a worst person. Violinist Sergio Tauroza does some fantastic work down the back straight of the song that really adds some extra life into the song. Third song Drinking Outside Funerals is an incredibly honest piece of song writing. Musically it's harder than the opening two tracks, maybe reflecting the darker tone of the song. Pete Wright's drums pound from the very beginning and continue throughout, brilliantly carrying the momentum of the song.

It's Not Over Yet Friends is the shortest song on Fizzy Brain. It's just acoustic guitar and violins and is a bit of a mission statement. It's about standing still in life but realising you must carry on as there is more "work to be done." This leads into the upbeat Fun Fun Fun, which is about living life to the fullest despite all of the bad things that go on around you. Guitarist Cal Hudson takes the lead musically on this track, which is definitely more in the realm of punk rock than folk. An excellent, fist-in-the-air punk rock anthem. JFH is another extremely honest song about how Dan struggles to deal with the suicide of a close friend of his. The lyrics are as honest as any I've ever heard and are full of emotion. Full credit to Dan for being able to firstly, write something so personal and secondly, be brave enough to share it with the world. The seventh track is called God Damn Coward and is a song about finding a way to express your feelings. This track feels so accessible and could easily find its way onto radio playlists given the right push. It goes along at a mid-tempo pace and has an instantly sing-able chorus. There is also a section of the song where things slow right down thus allowing Dan's unique voice to shine through before building back up to one last hard rocking chorus.

Heathers is a bit of a change of pace. Musically it's unbelievably atmospheric and really makes you focus on every word that Dan sings. It's another painfully honest song about striving to improve as a person. I love how minimal the music is in Heathers; a real case of less being more. The pace changes again with Taking Back The Living Room. Bass player Sophie gets to take lead vocals on the track, by my recollection this is the first time she's done this for Ducking Punches. Her sweet vocals really make this one of the stand out tracks on Fizzy Brain, and add another string to the band’s bow. It's about having to take back what is yours and the difficulty that can cause. Looking forward to hearing this one played live. Dan is back on the next song - House Guest. This is a stripped back song with just acoustic guitar and violin and again really focuses on the strength of the lyrics. It's about discovering who you are with your friends and getting through difficult times. Dan has a wonderfully emotional voice, whether it's restrained or he’s really giving it everything, he always finds a way to pull on your heartstrings. The final song on Fizzy Brain is titled Hurts Like Hell. It has a full band build before Dan sings over some slightly emo feeling chords and then resorts back to full Ducking Punches mode for the chorus. The tempo change in the chorus is amazing; the urgency grows during and really gets your heart pumping.

Fizzy Brain is an incredible album from an incredible band. In a UK scene that is full of great bands Ducking Punches are a real stand out; fantastic musicians and really honest songwriters. They could make you dance and then in the very next instance make you cry. Get this album now!

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