The sophomore album from local Calgary band the Fast Romantics sees a departure from the sound they developed in their debut album. Their self-titled debut, released in 2009, was standard indie-rock music with occasional, anticipated hints of punk rock slipped in and conveyed a general impression not unsimilar to Franz Ferdinand. Their latest album avoids the harder, punk rock and more traditional rock ’n’ roll sound in favour of a something much closer to mainstream folk rock — the kind of folk rock that’s really indie rock and ends up sounding a bit like pop music.
Beginning with the first track, “Friends,” the album progresses through more than one genre of music across the length of the album. “Afterlife Blues,” early on the album, is reminiscent of where Fast Romantics came from in their previous album, while “Isabelle” at the end clearly sounds the furthest from where they began.
The album seems to begin with their new sound, returns to their roots in the middle and ends back where it begins. It isn’t the smoothest transition from one track to the next and the differences between tracks can be a bit jarring.
Four years after they formed, they’ve become more confident in their sound and that comes across in this album. However, they haven’t completely abandoned their previous sound. It lingers here and there throughout the album on tracks like “Atoms,” but at other times the album hits much lighter notes that resemble music by Arcade Fire, Broken Bells or Mumford and Sons. If it takes a moment to imagine those three mixed together, then you’ll generally understand where this album ends up.
Afterlife Blues is Fast Romantics rediscovering themselves. But they haven’t done so quite yet.