The Fun Years are Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks. When they unite, their music turns into an iridescent, shape-shifting collage of kaleidoscopic, glowing design.
Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up is music for and from a hazy, ever-morphing neighborhood, emerging from a peach-colored glow of rising sunshine on a Saturday morning. Scissors chop at the sounds, cutting out a range of fresh psychedelic tones, and they hang over the awnings, looking down on the street below. In this town, warm colors saturate front yards, beaming out of the music like a row of bright picket fences.
This is something of a departure for Spring Break Tapes, because they’ll be releasing this on vinyl for the first time in their history. Heroes of the Second Story Walk-Up flows seamlessly. Pale and radiant at the same time, the collection of heaven-sent harmonies can only, and inevitably, go one way, skydiving into the Earth’s sobering atmosphere of misery and suffering; her debris, detritus, and decay. Like a gloopy mixtape – the mixtape being the ultimate symbol of musical freedom – the sounds coalesce smoothly, each layer a vital part of a larger, looping network. As more layers are added, the voltage slowly increases. Light crackles continually sprinkle the music, and soft orbs of dust levitate around them. Voices echo and loop beside the tinkling chimes of what could be Sonic the Hedgehog blazing past, collecting some gold rings. And, as Sega used to say, to be this good takes ages.
The sparkling energy of life, its joie de vivre, is found in the light, precious guitar interludes and the glimmering melodies, but permeating the music is a creeping, crackling presence of impermanence. The sound warbles like that of an old, adored cassette tape before fading away, reincarnating into something new and bold. A billowing sheet of sound ruffles the side of a resolute melody.
Everything emerges from a single, blazing note.
The opening set of notes glow and pulse as they come out of their cocoon. Additional layers work their way into the music, building and building until the music glowers a fiery cauldron-red. Something is simultaneously burning and renewing; the red-blooded melody is turning into the shrieking blare of a fire alarm. The rapid oxidation consumes everything. Nothing survives. Metal turns to rust, and wreckage scatters the air. Tearing remnants fall from the sky like paper snowflakes. Continuing on, the music can only rebuild, rising like a phoenix, and guitar-led loops eventually glue themselves back together.
There’s a recurring theme of persistent destruction and eventual healing, a rebuilding…until the next act of self-destruction. Our species drowns in this whirlpool, not only encountering the cycle but causing the cycle. The root; the alpha and omega. Another melody emerges and engulfs the music, but this time it’s grainy and somehow incomplete. This is ebb and flow music, effortlessly smooth in its shrunken apocalyptic states; a butterfly effect, where a single drop of rain in the ocean can make a wave crash on a distant shore.
A cool breeze blows through the music. Voices appear to be trapped under the rubble, perhaps calling out for help under the crushing weight of this tonal avalanche. After the collapse, the serenity, like that of white snowfall, ceases to be. Instead, a disruptive white noise invades the music, stepping over bodies and burning ruins. In the last five minutes, an overdriven guitar rocks out a set of muscular, hopeful power chords. These are the real heroes. Electronic sounds ripple outwards, joining a strong-minded cause where nothing exists save for a weightless elation and a realized destiny. At this point, the record is a movement of optimism and change, and sometimes, strummed, distorted chords are all you need, like a splash of cold water waking up the body and the mind. The textures are able to coexist, so why can’t humanity? The previous harmonies all come together, uniting as one, and unification is just what 2017 will need. (James Catchpole)