While it’s far from a movement, a collection of blue-eyed soul groups have begun to sprout up recently, taking the best of Motown and mixing it with indie rock and classic soul. The best of these groups is by far Fitz & the Tantrums, Los Angeles locals who have toured with Flogging Molly and Maroon 5, and are ready to outgrow their city with their new album Pickin’ Up the Pieces.
Upbeat single “MoneyGrabber” adds a dose of funk to their soulful sound, and has gotten even Silverlake hipsters to dance (I’ve seen it in person). Other numbers that can be added to a dance playlist: the bright pop gem “Breaking the Chains of Love” and “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”, a song that proudly shouts against fixing a broken relationship.
Melancholy soul jam “Tighter” is the song you want playing when romancing a significant other on the dance floor, as lead singer Fitz mourns that he should of “held you tighter and tighter”. On the opposite end of the spectrum is “Rich Girls”, a great kiss-off to the rich girls who will break your heart, and the poor girls who will take your money. Lyrically, this song is also interesting for how the narrator “repents” for his own poor decisions. This isn’t teenage emo angst.
Not every track hits pay dirt. “Dear Mr. President” is a noble attempt to comment on the economic crisis, but isn’t as passionate as it needs to be, and “News 4 U” hits a darker, more sour tone that doesn’t sit perfectly (nor do the French lyrics during the bridge).
Overall, this excellent live band has captured their sound wonderfully on record. Worth pickin’ up this piece.
8.5/10 Fitz & the Tantrums