This just in: Ratatat and Animal Collective had a baby, and they named it Fuck Buttons. With such a monicker, the English indie-electropop duo seems unafraid to rush headlong into controversy and has already doomed itself in terms of mainstream media acceptance.

Fuck Buttons

Tarot Sport
ATP

Still, the Fuck Buttons’ sound is surprisingly likeable and inoffensive. Ripe with harmonic intrigue and emotional twists and turns, Tarot Sport marks a departure from the Fuck Buttons’ more grating debut, Street Horrrsing. It’s a warm, inviting and all-around fun listen.

Though there’s no formal connection, Fuck Buttons take their sneaky structural progressions from fellow electronic duo Ratatat and are well-versed in the richly textured sound of Animal Collective. The typical Fuck Buttons song lets gradually layered samples fade in and out underneath slow but beautiful chord changes. Fuck Buttons somehow make the simplest cadence sound fresh, even after repeating it over and over again — for proof, just listen to “Olympians,” a triumphant exultation that switches between maybe five distinct chords in the span of almost 11 minutes but never gets boring.

While Bristol, England compatriots Portishead and Massive Attack anchor their easy-on-the-ears electronica with a heavy emphasis on vocals, Fuck Buttons leave no trace of human presence on Tarot Sport. If it weren’t for a few grunts on the track “Phantom Limb,” there would be no way of knowing that Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power are behind the curtain. Effortless song transitions make for an uninterrupted rush of sound that powers Tarot Sport through its tracks, from the fluttery early-morning opener “Surf Solar” to the pulsating finale of “Flight of the Feathered Serpent.”

Despite its apparent lack of a human touch, Tarot Sport is anything but artificial. Expressive without being “moody,” it explores positive emotion from all angles. “Surf Solar” radiates sunny-day exuberance with its shimmering glitches. Coolly calm, “The Lisbon Maru” exudes militaristic pride, supported by a strong drumbeat that slowly becomes more complex.

Even the downright bizarre “Phantom Limb” has a positive vibe — it sounds like a sci-fi robot takeover at first, but about three minutes, in the bundles of noise suddenly peel off and a simple “huh huh huh” (the closest to “lyrics” that Tarot Sport provides) proves there is still humanity in this postmodern world.

Beloved by hipster-spawning music blogs, Fuck Buttons have been hailed by many as the “Next Big Thing” ever since their first single release in 2007. The group has toured with Mogwai and performed at a few festivals, but the rousing praise it has gotten is a bit much for such an impressionable young band. Tarot Sport exceeds expectations — although for a group called Fuck Buttons, expectations are low — but the album is by no means revolutionary. It is a product of its noise-poppy times, too easily compared to its contemporaries to be totally original.

If Tarot Sport’s only fault is not being mindblowingly unique, that’s hardly grounds for rebuke. Fuck Buttons have crafted an album that leaves listeners feeling energized and wanting more. This group certainly might be ready for the big time — perhaps at this point, though, a name change is in order.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.