I’m not really a nostalgic person by nature. I might get a special tinge in my brain when listening to an album from my childhood, or when playing a classic video game, but nostalgia trips aren’t something that happen very often for me. FS, an alt-rock/punk band with a slight pop edge from Durham, NC, doesn’t really care about that though. Regardless of their artistic intention, listening to them has been an exercise in memory retrieval, reflection, and other nostalgia adjacent feelings and processes. Even if you’re not mentally thrown into a time warp with their music, there’s still a lot to enjoy just on the merits of their songwriting and performances. Let me explain what I mean by all of this and show you exactly why FS are a great band.
To explain how FS makes me feel and how I personally navigated their music, I have to bring you back to my past a bit. They craft the type of music that pervaded my high school over ten years ago. Had this band existed within that specific set of circumstances, it wouldn’t be hard to see them dominating our first generation iPods or Zunes (come on, who else had one?). It’s for this reason that they evoke a feeling of nostalgia in me. I could see FS played loudly in our cars with friends as we race against the clock to the nearest fast food place to have lunch before having to return for class, or… maybe skip a class and take an extended lunch (I wasn’t the best student, okay?). Memories of pining over classmates, but being a little too shy to make any substantive move. Loitering with friends at The Spot™. These are all things that come to mind for me as I listen.
FS lists some very familiar artists which they like, but also that they seem to associate their sound with, even if indirectly. Fall of Troy, Fall Out Boy, and prog lords Coheed and Cambria are among the bands name dropped, and for good reason. There’s definitely shades of all three of these bands and more, sometimes within a single song. Fall Out Boy is best heard in vocal inflections and delivery, mostly on their 2013 EP Cheers and Fears from the Past Year. Fall of Troy is emulated with mathy riffing on “Ground Pound the Pillars” from the aforementioned EP, or “Needed to Do Today” from their most recent EP You, of All People. Coheed‘s fledgling Second Stage Turbine Blade era can be heard weaving in and out of a lot of their tracks. A good example is the first minute of “Communion is a Waste of Wine”, which features top notch melodic pop-punk riffing and vocals. I even hear a little sunny instrumentation akin to Chon or Sithu Aye on the backend of tracks like “Light & Busy” which closes out You, of All People so nicely.
This amalgamation of styles is merely a point of reference, and a way for me to connect FS‘ sound to the period of time in which I’m trying to connect you to. What they do is wholly their own and rather unique especially in this time. Pop-punk as a mainstream institution and its flirtation with emo pop has come and gone with mostly only genre giants and MTV darlings remaining steadfast with consistent releases. While that era’s bubble popped much too recently to warrant a full-blown resurgence with bands triggering widespread rosy nostalgia, this is a band whose sound is a loving callback, but avoids tropes of being a novelty like many of those types of bands tend to be.
For these reasons and more, FS is worth your time. You need not to have the same experience I did to enjoy it because the music can carry you places on its own. Being a fan of the sound and its influences certainly helps though, and it’s built on well by the band with more progressively modern sensibilities than even a lot of the artists from that era bother with. There’s simple beauty to be found here, much like when you’re young. Things like love and friendship are often viewed in an idealistic manner and through the lens of naivete, and this music lends itself to that time in your life, even if that time is now for you. FS may not have set out to bring back anyone’s fond memories of the aughts, but for me personally that’s exactly what happened and I thank them for the trip.