Both Austin dream-pop trio Fanclub and its debut EP, All the Same, were born from a desire for new beginnings. Members Mike Lee and Leslie Crunkilton came from two separate, freshly broken-up bands, and after a heartache and a family death, Daniel Schmidt came in for support and the three created five smooth tracks. Thus, Fanclub was created from loss and rebirth, the latter motif becoming evident as it gives traditional ’80s synth a new life throughout this nostalgic EP.
All the Same feels somehow nostalgic and fresh at the same time. Even in its heartbreak and love, it is clean and cool and as refreshing as rinsing your hands on a too-warm day. The music is brisk and the band wastes no time dawdling; the longest track on the record is just three minutes and twenty-five seconds long, and all five songs have an equally driving beat.
Still, there is plenty of time to enjoy the songs. Nothing is rushed, and even fast-paced tracks feel evenly measured and well-balanced in terms of sound, dynamic and tempo. Though it is often difficult to tell what lead singer Leslie Crunkilton is singing, her vocals are smooth and bright, even as she croons disheartened lyrics on “Stranger” (“And now she’s gone/And you’ve never felt like this before”) or angry ones on “Reflection” (“I can tell you haven’t changed”). The synth feels equally upbeat, bopping along and creating a melody that is as dance-inducing as it is fun.
The EP’s five tracks vary in intensity and intricacy, but several threads run throughout, including Crunkilton’s soft-yet-strong vocals and poppy guitar licks. “Stranger” opens the record with a highly rhythmic and fun sound; it is one that easily encourages dancing within the first ten seconds of the EP. Its electric synth and drums leave little doubt about its pop influences. Just a few songs later, though, “Swear” is slower and sweeter, yet not sluggish. As the middle track of five, it triggers a bout of nostalgia with its hopeful tone and its lead singer’s willingness to just exist and take comfort in the journey (“I swear we’re gonna get there/I swear we’re gonna be okay right here”). Right near its end, “Swear” ties in a touch of the EP’s signature sentimental warmth with the repetition of the line, “I want to be yours every time.”
Fanclub’s All the Same EP suggests brilliant vignettes of colored LED lights and dancing under the stars. There is something nostalgic about its hope and heartbreak, though it can be difficult to put a finger on exactly what. Regardless, the band manages to keep things fun while creating a visceral wistfulness throughout its five synthy tracks. It is a strong debut and one that gives hope for still greater things to come from the band.
Check out Fanclub’s All the Same EP below: