Fuck Buttons

Slow Focus

ATP

Jul 19, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


They may not have medalled, but for Fuck Buttons, the 2012 Olympic Games in London were a career high. Despite their less-than-radio-friendly moniker, the duo from Bristol, England were catapulted onto the international stage via Danny Boyle's masterful opening ceremony, which revisited the U.K.'s cultural highs and lows in front of an audience of billions. 

Strangely enough, soundtracking a nation's industrial ontogeny worked. The piston beats and scarring synth lines of "Surf Solar" and "Olympians" from 2009's ambitious Tarot Sport finally had a contextual outlet. It was, in every sense, a fascinating and unexpected triumph.

For album number three, Slow Focus, Fuck Buttons have continued the tectonic plate shifting of previous endeavours. Their dark, enclosing signature is stamped all over this industrial affair, producing a highly technical record laced with glacial hints of melody.

While it's hardly the warmest listen, the juddering topography of tracks such as barbarous opener "Brainfreeze" and frazzled "Prince's Prize" make for a heavyweight 50 minutes. Each track is intent on overpowering the ear with a combination of mammoth percussion and screwdriving electronics.

Despite being their first self-produced long-player, this is far from new territory. And without visual stimulation to accompany the surging volts of "The Red Wing" or "Hidden XS," it's a record that's all too easy to phase in and out of. At times the arrangements seem to meld into one vastly stacked and impenetrable mountain range of sound.

Of course, this isn't entirely a bad thing. Slow Focus is exactly what you'd expect from a Fuck Buttons effort: it's brusque, overwhelming and complicated. But for a band so intent on pushing boundaries, this is a strange, almost faltering, sidestep. A place on the podium remains out of reach. (www.fuckbuttons.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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