For a math rock band, standards shot up pretty quickly. Since planting the seeds with their self titled EP in 2018, guitarist Marcos Mena and friends have developed a reputation for pushing the boundaries of traditional techniques… as well as an indomitable taste for fruit. That being said, four years is a long time, and it’s been two since standards’ last full length. Last year’s Yum !! EP teased some exciting new directions, but was there going to be enough material to make a full length worth the effort?
Thankfully, the answer is an absolute yes. Fruit Town throws down impossible guitar lines like nobody’s business, and Mena’s production sets the stage in bigger, bolder ways than it ever had the chance to with Yum !!. In fact, one hand seems to wash the other here when it comes to Marcos’ respective skills, evolving before our very eyes. Check out “Cherry” below. It’s a sugary, carbonated rush, opening with an entirely programmed little suite before borderline anthemic guitars kick in. Mellow, arpeggiating synth chirps and trap-y hi-hats propel the song in a totally new way for the band, yet it’s hardly unfamiliar. What it is, however, is an obvious sign that standards is entirely in their element here, and if you need more proof, just wait till that solo hits at the end.
It’s a new level of comfort within the standards sound, extending in every direction. Take “Snack” or “Bubble Bath” for instance, which sounds like math rock made specifically Mario Party, which we mean as the highest compliment. These songs might have come off too cheeky if they appeared on Yum !! or Fruit Island, which weren’t inherently serious, but never got this explicitly… cute? Speaking of, Fruit Town sees a new style of ballad for the project as well when it comes to “Cosmic Dream.” The song’s dusky, jazz-tinged departure is met with cooed vocal lines that elevate the song’s simple but effective emotional moments, adding another unique highlight to Fruit Island‘s eclectic collection of bangers.
Fruit Town‘s first single “Cloudberry” ends up being the most familiar cut here. It’s still lit up with production, but the main focus is its throaty, formant guitar tone. Even so, the song serves as an effective opening statement as well: Yum !! made clear headway when it came to mixing melodic production with guitar, and the songs on Fruit Town have obviously sprung from that aesthetic. “Cloudberry” serves up their classic drum and guitar dynamic, but keeps things fresh by sneaking in tricks like sampling, filtering, and various glitches on the side.
If you like that one as much as us, be sure to check out the springy, sinewy “Coconut” as well. You’d be doing yourself a disservice though if you’re not checking out the record in it’s entirety, with every song offering something so different. “8-bit” lives up to it’s name in the best way possible, between the Forrest Rice magic on the drums and emotive samples of some very familiar video games – a lot of people are going to fall in love with this one through nostalgia alone. “Melon,” one of the album’s few downtempo moments, also features some effective sample work, but it’s the space within the track that seems most important, sprinkling bits of plate verb or delay when needed.
Sometimes you hear about a band releasing something as self-titled because it’s their most ‘mature’ or ‘representative of their true sound.’ As lofty as those goals might be, they’re endeavors that Fruit Town ultimately succeeds in, whether or not it means to. It’s their most complete, most engaging release so far, and it shows growth on every level. Of course they didn’t abandon their fruity outlook. If anything, they’ve actually doubled down on it, crossing the threshold and leaving any trace of irony behind. The song titles and overall aesthetic might still be cute, but there’s an unmistakable sincerity in every corner of Fruit Town, resulting in our favorite standards release to date.
We’ve got additional content from Marcos coming up soon, so stay tuned! We’ve also got articles on Delta Sleep, Paranoid Void, and potentially a legendary return… but you’ll just have to wait! Don’t forget to grab a Fruit Town bundle from Wax Bodega here or see the band on tour if you want in on that super sick pink vinyl. We know we do. You can also splash hot coffee on our ugly mugs here, otherwise, thanks for reading and see you soon!