Back to basics
There’s a lot of nostalgia in the sound of fanclubwallet. Even though the popularity of dream-pop has slowed since the late 2010s, there is still a plethora of interesting and valuable music from these artists around the world. For many, there is a desire to completely disrupt the sound of dream-pop.
Innovation means creating something that lessens the appeal of dream-pop to many, i.e. the intimacy of production as if the artist is in the room. fanclubwallet does not reinvent the wheel but fundamentally understands the genre. You are laughing at me is a love letter to the genre, while reflecting a distinct voice.
The opening track, “Solid Ground”, has a retro intro, almost replicating a tape rewind. He punctuates vocal delivery, with his laid-back, easy style. The track is a relatively tame sound compared to other rock records this year, but there’s a power in bringing the music back to basics. There is an understanding of what is needed in the song, which makes it easy to listen to. Although not an explosive opener, there is a set tone for the rest of the album.
“Gr8 Timing!” is much more of an early 2000s sound with its synth and buzzing guitar chords; you can’t help clinging to its hooks. The guitar riff is contagious. It punctuates the song in such a way, lingering beyond the album itself. Not only is it a good song, but it’s also an incredibly catchy song. Getting what a lot of bedroom pop lacks, fanclubwallet has a danceable quality to this track, like a classic pop song.
Later in the album, “Trying to Be Nice” is a darker song, touching on the insecurities of wanting to be known. In the simplistic lines, there is a power in the candor of the artist. Along with a timid admission, there is a sense of self-loathing in addition to the lead singer’s attraction to his partner. But perhaps most interesting is the instrumental, with the swelling guitar chords. The shimmering keyboard with rougher edges helps the song fit into the traditional dream-pop sound while remaining clean.
“That I Won’t Do” is one of the shortest songs on the album, but it packs a lot into its few lines. Not straying far into obscure metaphor, there’s an intimacy to the lyrics that makes this a powerful breakup song, as it doesn’t seem to dwell on excess. The keyboard loop and swirling, ethereal bass make everything feel like a dreamlike haze. The lyrics are poignant, punctuating the core of the singer’s identity altered by this relationship.
The title track “You Have Got to Be Kidding Me” ends the album. Although there are no big reveals present throughout the album, there is a faster progression that makes this feel far removed from previous songs. The use of samples is inspired here, adding to the texture of the song. This creates a layer of depth and dimension never heard in previous recordings. It shows that there is a look towards nostalgia and the traditional sounds of dream-pop and indie rock throughout the album, while also showing that there is potential to be explored. One yearns for more samples in future work, as it really made the album end in a league of its own.