The Fatty Acids first landed on Milwaukee’s radar with 2010’s Stop Berries, Berries And Berries, Berries, a synth-laden set of pop songs birthed in a dingy Riverwest basement. Since the band’s encouraging debut, the sextuplet has been a fixture in the local music scene with frequent shows, an anthology of inventive and lighthearted music videos, and an ever-developing sound. Just over three years after Berries comes Boléro, the band’s third album and most focused effort yet—written and recorded in the same basement.
With a volley of rapid-fire percussion and a series of distortion-slathered “oh”s from singer Josh Evert, Boléro is set in motion with “Girls And Gods.” Soon, the six-minute opener sheds tempo, finding Evert whispering “Perfect from surface level but beneath I lose interest / One day in love with your best friend and the next throwing dishes,” as bass lines and piano billow to culminate in a dance-y, electro-pop conclusion. “Airsick” and “Worst Part” keep pace, with synthesizer and radio-ready vocal hooks in the former and duel drummers and group “whoa”s in the latter, with squealing Matt Pappas guitar licks portioned throughout.
“Sportskin” marks a rare departure from the album’s decidedly upbeat construct. The scramble-pop takes five to make room for a straight-up love song with romantic mentions of selling wedding bands for scrap and honeymooning on an island that can’t be found on a map. The unmistakable Monica Martin of Phox lends welcomed vocal support to the sweet detour.
While the majority of Boléro comes encased in a peppy package, some songs tote underlying political and social significance. “Little Brother Syndrome” takes environmental issue, and touches on a dwindling sense of empathy and flaws in religion. “The bumper stickers let me know which country has God most impressed / And Little Brother Syndrome has me searching for a better nest,” Evert sings.
By the time the rowdy conclusion of album-ender “Human Tetris Bodies” arrives, The Fatty Acids have managed to meld the pop appeal and inherent goofiness of Berries with the bipolar depth of 2011’s Leftover Monsterface. Adding to it is the band’s polished and inventive instrumentation, keen lyrics, and, evidently, increased home-recording experience since Monsterface. It all culminates to make Boléro the band’s best work to date—one that’s sure to keep The Fatty Acids a favorite in Milwaukee… and, just maybe, beyond.
The Fatty Acids celebrate the release of Boléro Friday, September 6 at the Pabst Theater. Faux Fir and Sat. Nite Duets open the show.