Monday, 21 August 2017

Album Review: Coitus Interruptus by Flabbercasters

Here's another of my randomly clicking around Bandcamp discoveries. This time it's a five piece band from Maryland, USA, named Flabbercasters. Flabbercasters formed in 2015 as a three piece before eventually growing to the five piece that are together today. They play a fun pop punk music, modelling themselves on Diarrhea Planet, a six piece garage punk band from Nashville. Many Flabbercasters songs are about being a wizard - so you know they are a fun, good time band that doesn't take themselves too seriously. In July Flabbercasters released a new album named Coitus Interruptus. All fourteen songs on the album were written in less than ten minutes and were tracked in two days. Flabbercasters are clearly a band that doesn't mess around.

First up is the song Mana Drought. The song is just under a minute long but gives you the complete feel of what Flabbercasters are all about. It's a fun pop punk song that's easy to pick up and sing along with. It's about not being able to cast the spells you want and feeling kind of bummed about it. After writing that sentence I feel like this will be a weird album to review. Next up is Winguardium Levio-Shut Up. This is a song that takes a shot at that cool guy at the bar who is a show off, everyone has seen that guy and I imagine you all despise that guy. I despise that guy so the song is hugely relatable - which is something I didn't expect to say about a wizard pop punk record. I Like You was the song that stuck out to me the most when I first listened to Coitus Interruptus. After beginning with a little bass solo, the rest of the band come in and we are treated to a little ditty about liking a girl and wanting to help her become a wizard. Lyrically it's one of the simplest song that you will ever hear, I love it for that. In fact there are only thirty-five words in the whole song. It's a case of sing and repeat, which works brilliantly as I Like You is one of the most infectious songs I've heard in a long time.

The fourth song, Dumped By Your Cleric, slows things down a touch and goes along at more of a methodical pace than the previous three songs. The song is one of the sadder ones (if still quite silly) on the album as it's about, like the title states, being dumped by your cleric. Towards the end of the song Flabbercasters show off some awesome vocal harmonies, hopefully it's not the last time we hear them on the album. Lvl 40 (Congratulations) is another track that starts off with a little bit of bass before launching into the song. Lyrically this is an even simpler song than I Like You. This song only has three words - Lvl 40 (Congratulations). Stupidly silly but stupidly catchy. I smiled the whole way through the song. Flabbercasters love a bass intro, we get another one on track six - Size Reduction Magic Potion. This track makes me think that Flabbercasters were the result of some crazy bit of breeding from Nerf Herder and Pkew Pkew Pkew. It's super nerdy and with the addition of the gang vocals and whoa-ohs there really is a feel of Canada's best pop punk band to it. It's a great song. The Wand Chooses You brings us to the halfway mark of Coitus Interruptus. This song took me by complete surprise - Flabbercasters have magically transformed into a hardcore band and they're coming along to punch you right in the face, musically. It's nice when a band can take you by surprise, it keeps you on your toes and listening keenly. I'm now hoping they also throw in a flamenco song to take me by surprise again.

On Remodelled Dungeon we return to that now familiar Flabbercasters pop punk sound. Here the band's lead singer boasts about his newly spruced up dungeon - obviously. Remodelled Dungeon has a great feel of everyone being involved in the song with the whole band playing their roles perfectly. Whether it's the gang vocals, the rumbling bass line, the pounding drum or the sweet guitar solos, it is a very well written song. JK I'm Totes A Drag, Bro is a slower song that builds toward a big finale. The first two verses of the song only feature guitar and vocals, as lead singer Nick Anthony admits that he's just a human and needs help. Then the song explodes into life like a firework and we learn in fact no! He's actually a dragon and you better not mess with him. Again silly but again brilliant. Fountain Of Youth is another track that begins with a bass solo (seems to be a Flabbercasters trademark). Gone is the upbeat tone that has featured on the majority of songs so far, on Fountain Of Youth there is a much darker tone to its sound. Hidden amongst the wizard references, this song is actually about not worrying about getting old and being mature and making sure that you live in the moment to do what you love. Amongst the silliness Flabbercasters have found a way to write a serious and uplifting song.

Lvl 40 (Reprise) is another surprising track. It's not the flamenco song that I was hoping for but it does have a jazzy pop flair to it. The first half of the song is just guitar and some sweet vocals before, after a great drum roll, we get the full band in the second half. This really gives the song some life and comes a bit out of the blue which is wonderful. The twelfth song, Medusa Goes To Bermuda, sees Flabbercasters change things up again with an indie punk sound. Anthony's vocal is more laid back and restraint throughout most of the song, this really amplifies the times where he does let rip and hit some higher notes. Medusa Goes To Bermuda is about falling for someone you know is bad for you, feeling that you're in way over your head but wanting to save them. Here the subject matter is obviously Medusa but this is a fun metaphor. Musically this is more of a laid back and at times sombre song rather than the upbeat cheery nature that I had become accustomed to. The penultimate song is named Hexes On Exes. Flabbercasters love a song that has very few lyrics. The majority of the song is just "We Like Casting Hexes, But Only On Our Exes" aside from a spoken word, almost preachy section about a girl who broke Anthony's heart so he turned her into a newt. From here the song again comes to life with the gang vocals almost sounding choir-like and a fantastic guitar solo giving the whole song an epic feel. Finally we have Offline Limbo. This is a silly but very sad song to finish the album off with. It's about not being able to get online to play a game and missing out on seeing someone, in the game, who you really like. It's such a silly subject but Flabbercasters have managed to turn into a hugely emotional song that will have you invested and hoping that eventually the hero does get the girl.

I've used the word silly a lot whilst doing this review and I think it's a fair word to use. There is so much silliness involved on Coitus Interruptus but that's why I love it. Punk doesn't always have to be about changing the world, sometimes it can be about having fun and smiling. Flabbercasters so that brilliantly… in a very silly way.

Stream and download Coitus Interruptus here:

Like Flabbercasters here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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