Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review: Fun With Atoms “Smart”

The nucleus of the power pop band Fun With Atoms is comprised of three particles: Rick Smith (vocals, guitars, keys), Dan Collins (vocals, bass, keys), and Curt Lefevre (drums, vocals). They are packed together tight, emitting a steady stream of sound waves that will electrify listeners.

Fun With Atoms hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin and has released two acclaimed records already – their indie debut “Main Street” was produced by none other than Butch Vig (Nirvana, Garbage). Their sophomore set, “Northern Distortion” saw power pop icon Jeff Murphy (Shoes, Material Issue) at the helm. Infusing Beatles inspired songwriting with multi-layered harmonies quickly garnered the band plenty of college radio airplay. Now they are back with “Smart”, perhaps partly named after being mixed and mastered by Mike Zirkel at the legendary Smart Studios in Madison.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that “Smart” is a record that promises to please the band’s fan base and expand it considerably. The band prides itself on writing great song hooks, surrounding them with inventive guitar arrangements and harmonies galore. According to Smith, “we wanted this record to capture the energy of our live shows, without a lot of overdubs and additional instrumentation”. If that was indeed the band’s goal, I say they have accomplished it – “Smart” sounds more like raw, garage rock then your highly polished, overly processed million-dollar sound. But they key thing is that the boys have created a truly “fun” record in every sense of the word.

Opening track “Walking the Razor's Edge” is a perfect mid-tempo starter with cool chord progressions and a satisfying hook in the chorus. Things really get moving with “Really Happy”, a sunny song with a memorable wah-wah vocal that you’ll fight singing aloud all day long. Additional highlights include the Cars-sounding “Restless Kind”, the bluesy mid-tempo ballad, “Feels Like Rain”, and the pop rock perfection of “Mystery”. The record closes with “Jones”, a notable fable of a song about those striving for empty pleasures by struggling to keep up with the you know whos.

If you like Gin Blossoms, Del Amitri, or Urge Overkill, don’t miss Fun With Atoms.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10

Fun With Atoms on MySpace. Official site.