Sports is the debut record from Iceland’s Fufanu. Formerly operating under the moniker of Captain Fufanu they’re a band firmly rooted in electronica. A change of name and direction – neither wholesale – sees them lean more towards alternative rock. They’ve added what bunny boss Ian McCulloch refers to as ‘twiddly guitars’ but there’s a sense that those sinister guitar lines and the monotone vocals have just been tacked on as an afterthought.
Title track ‘Sports’ opens the record with a stuttering synth intro and sharp guitar reminiscent of early Joy Division setting the tone for the rest of the record. It’s a record of sharp, rigid angles with predatory guitar lines that creep up behind you creating a real sense of claustrophobic pressure. Without the vocals, this record sounds like one of John Carpenter’s best, most paranoia inducing, legendary movie scores, with them it sounds a little flat, one dimensional, kind of like a car stuck in second gear. There’s a palpable sense of deep, dark dentist-drill doom looming over many of the tracks, an achievement in itself, but Sports seldom manages to ascend out of that making it sadly predictable and repetitive.
‘Your Fool’ is perhaps the most complete, fully recognised song on the record a glimpse into what Fufanu’s next record could possibly be. Sports however sounds like an electronica band trying to make a crossover alt-rock record without fully committing to either camp, unable to nail either genre individually nor straddle both effectively. It’s a record that showcases the band’s promise and potential – mainly due to the foreboding mood they effortlessly create on almost every backing track – but is badly let down by the song writing and vocal delivery. There are so few peaks and troughs within the songs. Within 10-15 seconds of each track starting, as soon as the drum machine and bass kicks in, you know what’s in store for the next four to five minutes.
It’s unfortunate because it’s nothing a break or two from the drum machine would fix, just to add a little more colour or diversity to the record. As it is, after the third track you know what you’re getting for the rest of the record.