Album Review: Fitness – Karate

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Max Collins (lead singer of Eve 6) and Kenny Carkeet (rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist, ex-AWOLNATION) bonded over a love of ODB, Public Enemy, and a desire to explore new creative places in music. The result is the band Fitness, who recently released their debut album Karate.

At times on the new album, the songs sound exactly like what you would expect the collaboration of these two artists’ work would be, such as on the hyper-speed electroclash of “Sing” (the most AWOLNATION-esque song on the record) or heavier electronic rock of “Itch”. These two tracks are dark, more industrial, and the weakest songs on the album.

Thankfully, following these are a collection of eight jams spanning a number of genres that still manage to maintain a cohesive audio aesthetic. “Kill the Rich” is the best synthesis of the varying styles. Built on melodic synths, heavy beats and a twangy guitar sample, with Collins hypnotically chanting the chorus, the song is dark and dirty enough for the underground but pop enough to “kill” at a festival.

The influence of the 80’s is all over Karate, from the funky drum beats and synth lines of “In the Clear” to the anthemic, Springsteenian opening of “Cold Rain”. The latter track is reminiscent of “Born in the U.S.A.”, with it’s uplifting melodies hiding lyrics railing against the harshness of life; “This life will crush you…this life will break you.” At its heart, the track is pure 80’s dance rock, and shows off Carkeets’ way around a danceable rhythm.

Collins sounds like he’s having more fun than he’s had in a long while, spitting out dirty come-ons like “I don’t care if it’s hip, or PC or not. Your body has holes, that I want to fill up” (“Good Bad Time”) or escapist contradictions on “Run&Hide” (“I want to run, and I want to hide, and I want to waste the day inside.”). He’s always been a savvy lyricist, able to translate his knack for wordplay on rockers like “Good Bad Time” or on thoughtful acoustic numbers (see “Long Gone”).

Carkeet does his part to keep the music eclectic, throwing in bits of tropicalia between the loud guitars on “Good Bad Time”, vocal layering on “In the Clear”, or keeping things deliberately sparse, such as on single “Matter of Time”. While there is nothing too outlandish or wild in the mix, the tracks here rarely sound like Eve 6, and only harken back to AWOL on the opening song. Both Collins and Carkeet know how to write a radio-friendly rockers, so even their more experimental songs come with sharp hooks and singalong choruses.

While the L.A.-based band has been starting to make waves out here with Warped Tour appearances and play on KROQ’s Locals Only, expect Fitness to be a hit on future summer festival circuits as their album starts to catch ears.

Take a listen below, or next time you have a long drive ahead:


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