Fey are a four-piece alternative rock band hailing from Vancouver, B.C. in Canada. They describe themselves as the culmination of several Vancouver bands including Quarter, Champions of the Wild and Shiftkit. The name Fey is surely ironic as there nothing fey about their music, a visceral blend of 90’s style rock, what would have been termed grunge back then, with more traditional punk rock elements, and aspects of metal thrown into the mix. This album, Bye Bipolar, consists of seven tracks which were self-produced and recorded at Spinnaker Sound.
The Day We Meet is an incendiary opening song, and the perfect introduction to their sound. Starting with an intense, angular guitar riff and a spoken word sample about emotionally damaged children, the sonic assault soon begins. Lacerating, diamond-cutter guitars compete with Sam Cavaglia’s impassioned vocals (he has a suitably Cobain-esque punk rock howl) to great effect, aided by Scotty Miller’s blistering yet precise drumming and Taylor Compo’s driving basslines. This song makes great use of dynamics, seamlessly switching between full and half-time on the choruses.
Second track Rent Free is more mid-paced (for the most part) though equally intense, with a low-end RATM style guitar riff and some unsettling stop-start dynamics. Cavaglia weaves a brooding web of jealousy and paranoia, ominously intoning “I can hear your footsteps getting closer to the bed…”. He ratches up the tension with the repeated phrase “Where have you been….?” until the music finally explodes in a manic build up and furious last minute of electrifying punk rock.
Replaceable History follows, a song seemingly about childhood with Cavaglia defiantly singing “The branches will not break, cos they can hold my weight….”. It again makes good use of quiet/loud dynamics and builds up tension, Cavaglia this time letting loose the song’s title in a vocal-cord shredding scream that could wake the dead and shows their more metal leanings.
14 Years is the slow-burning epic of the album at five and a half minutes, featuring a fine vocal performance and a surprisingly rhythmically complex middle section, before Jeff Wang gets to shine with a gorgeous swirling guitar line towards the end, the closest he gets to a solo (they admirably avoid rock clichés like the plague).
Fifth track Grease Pit returns to the dark and claustrophobic intensity of the earlier songs, and could be the darkest of the lot with a positively demonic bassline that kicks in halfway, Cavaglia chillingly singing “they only ever see the bad side of me….” before building to another ferocious climax, ending in repeated screaming of a phrase that can’t be printed here. They are unlikely to be supporting Taylor Swift anytime soon….
There is no let up with the sixth song Zero One, perhaps the most metal track here, beginning with a barrage of screaming that would scare Slipknot, then warning “If you get in my way, I’ll raise a jagged blade…”. Just to tick every box marked ‘heavy’ there is some furious double kick work from Miller at the end.
This leads to the finale of Compass, by far the longest track, with an effective two-minute instrumental intro that sets the mood perfectly. It features the fantastic line “I want to see believers surrounded by sinners…”, which would make a pretty good overall band manifesto. Across its seven minutes it goes through several different sections with some blazing tom fills towards the end, an unusually ambitious arrangement for a punk rock/grunge band, but this is a band that refuses to be pigeonholed. There is a closing minute of the sound of waves lapping against a shore, almost as if to soothe the listener’s frayed nerves.
Overall, this is a superb album that features no weak links and is the right length for this style of music. They are unique as a band in that they combine the rawness and vitality of punk rock/grunge with the virtuosic musicianship and musical complexities you associate more with metal/prog rock bands. It is a potent hybrid they manage to achieve and I expect them to develop a huge and devoted following in the future.
Verdict: 8.4 out of 10
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