The Fifth Business | Time of Year
Album review by John Powell
By nature, Lo-Fi recordings have difficulty living up to standards of modern sound engineering. The bar is very high. For The Fifth Business, however, it may have been a great move to make, as their debut LP, Time of Year is nine songs of garage/ punk/Indie rock that fits the at-home sound. It’s a self-recorded and self-produced record, and has that fuzzy, unpolished glory that fans of Iggy Pop, old Smashing Pumpkins, or MxPx will love.
Time of Year starts with the title track, a two-minute freak lullaby. Singer Deane Calcagni coos, “Every day’s a New Years resolution/I forgot to make/making them impossible to break,” over a twinkling guitar. It’s more of an intro than a real song, much like “Clap Your Hands” started Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s first album.
“Time of Year” is also like a roller coaster click-clacking us to the peak, where we begin to descend into “No Cure For Curiosity”, with Mike Healy’s drums firing away, and then the rhythm guitar kicks in with a single-chord rock groove that Arcade Fire would approve of. Deane shows off his chops. “I’m prepared to let my hair grow long,” he jeers, the band behind him not holding back for one instant.
The less poppy “I Could Be Wrong” follows, blending punk rawk with Indie rhythm, a heavy tom and kick drumbeat and lead guitar keeping a steady tweet before everyone turns their amps to “11”.
“This road is a long road/it’s a dark road/it’s a cold road,” starts off “Candy Cigarette.” With a catchy melody and persistent beat. This is a key track. It’s here that John Wallis’ bass can best be heard, also happening on “The Transformation”.
Now, beside two overdriven guitars and stellar drumming, the bass is often lost in the muddle, but overall, the song composition is good and each instrument does what it needs to for propelling the songs. There are plenty of instrumental breakdowns, palm- muted bridges, lead guitar tinkering, and sing-a-long near-screams throughout Time of Year. With more listens, the addictive album burrows into you.
“Straight Line” changes the sound up with some acoustic rhythm guitar, and is the most Indie song on the album, and likely a hipster favorite. “She took my heart,” Deane moans, “and gave me who and where and why.” Then there’s a “Woah-oh” that you can’t help but sing with him.
Lyrically, the album focuses on small town drama, on ugly romances, funerals, adults that won’t grow up, and the glory days. “The Transformation” states, “There has never been/a life quite like the one that we are in.” Each alludes to a time of year, making this somewhat of a concept album, although there’s no discernable plot.
Beware the sound quality, but also embrace it. The Fifth Business composes really good songs that transcend age; thirteen-year-old girls and thirty-year-old men can both enjoy “Time of Year.” It’s probably not for grandma. It rocks too hard. They made this record all by themselves, and The Fifth Business mean business, so listen in.