TAIWAN: Town - The Fur.
Consummate pop music performed perfectly - but is there enough of it to satisfy?
The first song on Taiwanese indie band The Fur.’s 2018 album Town is called Short Stay, which sums up my only real issue with the album, and it’s an uncommon criticism for me to make – it’s too short. While many musicians and bands are cursed with the affliction of being unable to kill their darlings, by which I mean they overstuff their album to bursting point, where perhaps had three or four songs been cut, the album would be stronger. The Fur. are blessed with a sense of brevity. However, this can be a negative thing on occasion. Always leave them wanting more, but don’t leave them feeling unsatisfied. And while I wouldn’t say this is a bad album for its brevity – far from it, it’s a very strong set of tunes – it does leave me wanting more. Much more. One might look at that and say that they’ve done their job, they’ve hooked you in with their music and that’s a success in and of itself, and those people may be right. However, to my view, while there is no set amount of time an album has to be, the album should feel as long as it needs to be, and this, to my view, ends so abruptly, perhaps even just another five or ten minutes could have made it feel more complete. This aside, I love the album, and it’s probably why I’m complaining it’s too short is precisely because of that. It is bright and charming, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear much more from them in the future..
“There’s some truly good music on here, especially for those people who love 1980s music but maybe are tired of listening to the same five Depeche Mode songs over and over again...”
There are seven songs, running to a total of 24 minutes, and they use their time well (even if they could do with some more of it). The Fur.’s sound is bright, smooth, well-polished, and neat. Every element fits in with each other element. While something like Little Song is low key and acoustic, reminiscent of Blackbird by the Beatles, and We Can Dance might sound more like 1980’s synth pop in the vein of Simple Minds or Alphaville, the eclecticism fits together because there’s an overriding current of indie musicianship. These songs can be retro at times, but they always add in elements of modern production and music that add their stamp onto it. A song like Avocado Man fits very well into that mode, as it sounds like an indie rock song overlain on top of an 80's ballad, which is a charming mix, and the unusual lyrics add a sense of mystery. They’re having fun, and that’s transmitted through the music. So, when we get to the final song, Blueberry, you can understand my disappointment, because it’s an instrumental electronica piece that builds in intensity and builds in intensity, and then… it stops. And the album ends. On the Bandcamp version of the album, one remix of a previous song then follows, but on Spotify, that is where it ends, and to my ears it needs just one song more to tie the album together. Blueberry itself is a great song, seemingly taking inspiration from the John Carpenter’s film soundtracks for Christine and Assault on Precinct 13, though it could just as easily be inspired by the Stranger Things soundtrack.
Another interesting aspect of the album is that it is entirely in English, which makes it more internationally focused than some other Taiwanese pop we’ve listened to, but also is likely a reflection of not only a very globalised music market but also the fact that most of The Fur.’s influences seem to be Western bands and styles, and they’ve taken those styles and made them their own. It is very polished and they are clearly in their comfort zone on the whole, and in the future, it could be good to hear them venture beyond their safe confines of indie pop rock. That said, there’s a sense of fun about this album that I enjoy, and despite my misgivings about how it ends, I would recommend you check it out. There’s some truly good music on here, especially for those people who love 1980s music but maybe are tired of listening to the same five Depeche Mode songs over and over again, but also for anyone who wants to hear inventive pop music done well. You may well find that the album is just as long as it needs to be, and I hope you do, because this is not very far off from the level of masterpiece.