Fitz and the Tantrums: More Than Just a Dream

Written by May 8th, 2013 at 5:23 pm

fitz and the tantrums

Fitz and the Tantrums
More Than Just a Dream
(Dangerbird/Elektra)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The power of Fitz and the Tantrums’ electrified live gigs and a terrific single in “Money Grabber” finally pushed this hard working contemporary R&B outfit out of the frat party trenches into the mainstream and larger halls. As if to acknowledge that newfound popularity, every song on this long awaited follow-up to 2010s Pickin’ Up the Pieces reaches for the back rows. While there is no lack of energy in the performances, many songs seem forced and lack the organic groove that effective soul music demands. Frontman/principal songwriter Michael Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a particularly distinctive voice, the songs are too slickly produced by half and powerful female singer Noelle Scaggs is underused singing backing to enormous hook oriented choruses such as the one in “Spark” where the “don’t they know, this building is about to blow” lyric screams out for audience participation. Ditto for the giddy “ooh-ooh-ooh”s in the catchy first single “Out of My League.” Synths, drum machines and a general brittleness doesn’t help make this contemporary soul any more soulful. Tunes like “Keepin’ Our Eyes Out” contain the germs of future classics but get lost in unsympathetic production that saps the vibe, replacing it with reverb and sheer vocal determination. That and the band’s natural, crowd pleasing energy may work on the concert stage but it doesn’t create an album you’re likely to return to after the ringing in your ears subsides the next day.

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