(Easy Life Records, out Fri 14 Sept 2018)
The Kilmarnock three-piece Fatherson, after hitting No.2 in the Scottish album charts with their second studio album Open Book, are back with their third LP, Sum of All Your Parts. The band have said about their new album that it is “a little bit more raw,” “loose” and “funner.” Questionable comparative adjectives aside, they are not wrong. As a three-piece band, Fatherson have always impressively made a powerful noise by filling out their sound with deep thudding bass and wide reverb guitars. But as on previous albums, this sound, coupled with singer Ross Leighton’s soothing vocals, can at times leave the listener lost in a mesh of velvety tones. These newly added raw sensibilities give a more dynamic experience on Sum of All Your Parts. Also, with the band pulling back on big chords, introducing hardier riffs and utilizing some atmospheric keys to decorate the space left, we get to appreciate the prowess of Leighton’s vocals more. With the frontman’s voice soft and booming, Leighton can both grab attention in the break, and drive a big chorus to its sonic limit.
Recorded live and in chronological order in Glasgow, with the aid of producer Claudius Mittendorfer (Arctic Monkeys, Interpol), we get to hear an honest capture of the band. With loud guitars and hefty drums at play, this recording technique leaves the album loose and organic sounding, urging you to play it loud, particularly on tracks like Gratitude and Ghost.
The album’s opener The Rain and the first single Making Waves, are a perfect display of the band’s ability to get gritty musically, while perfectly supporting Leighton’s mighty warbling vocals and catchy pop melodies. The album ends with the slow burner Building A Wall. An extended intro with distorted drums and a disjointed bassline (reminiscent of early Bloc Party) leads on in peaks and troughs to an elegant but powerful chorus (a theme on display throughout most of the album: the combination of grace and force). The track ends with the line, “Everyone I know thinks I am wrong / It’s greater than the sum of all your parts,” concluding the album with the title name of the LP. A sort of closure akin to the “Fin” at the end of a foreign film. Sum of All Your Parts is a beautiful return for the Scottish trio.