With Biffy/Thrice-approved noise rockers Modern Rituals into their third album cycle by late 2021, bassist Rob Hollamby took advantage of a recent redundancy to consider this question and write Legendary Parties, his first EP as Fuzzy Heart. Sonically influenced by The Weakerthans, Hold Steady, Mountain Goats etc, his debut EP delivers five tracks of wordy indie rock about office work being terrible, and partying too hard as a result. Today, we’re giving it a proper attention with a deep dive into each and every track, and a first-hand commentary from Rob below.
Legendary Parties is out on Friday, February 10th. You can listen to it on Bandcamp, Spotify and all the other places. Follow Fuzzy Heart on Instagram or Twitter, or get in touch on [email protected].
Fuzzy Heart’s debut EP Legendary Parties track by track:
Ernesto Plays Guitar
Legendary Parties mostly concerns itself with what it means to be a middle-class, white-collar worker in London and the Home Counties. Write what you know, right?
On first track ‘Ernesto’, we find the protagonist bored out of their mind in a sea of emails. Grateful for the comfort that their employment provides, but in the midst of one of those soft little existential crises that are the luxury of the privileged.
For the first time, they watch this video, having been sent it by a friend.
48:30-50:50 reminds them that there’s still ample time to pick up a guitar and rip, despite all the voices in their head telling them that they’re too old, that they’re talentless, that they have nothing to contribute to the world.
If you know those voices: they are mostly just you, and they’re mostly wrong. Fuck those voices. Pick up the guitar and rip, you legend.
When you spend most of your waking life at a desk doing something inconsequential, you need something to balance the boredom. Some people find that balance in healthy endeavours: the London Marathon, cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats, spending their free time at the business end of a Samaritans phone line.
Some people though. Well, God help ‘em, they like to get fucked up. So I thought I’d write them a dumbass D-C-G anthem to yell in the living room at 4am.
At the outset of ‘Legendary Parties’, we join our narrator neck-deep in a case of what Paul Westerberg so eloquently calls the Nightclub Jitters.
They’re skulling lone beers on their way to a house party, tamping down the pre-sesh nerves, supplies squirrelled away in paranoid places.
Once our protagonist hits the party, they do what they have to do. If you’ve been here, you know how the arc goes. It’s good, it’s brilliant, it’s transcendent, and then it’s not. Luckily, this person has a pretty decent group around them to cushion their fall. I’m a big advocate of telling your friends that you love them, as loudly and lavishly as possible, and ‘Legendary Parties’ is nothing if not that.
WFH, Listening to Smog
I’d been through a very, very dry spell as regards songwriting – years, I think – when I made myself write ‘WFH’ as a kind of exercise. The brief was ‘no chord sequence too basic’, so it’s E and A, with the odd D thrown in. The lyrics are absolutely literal and could generously be called ‘twee’, but more accurately ‘lazy’.
That said, ‘WFH’ is on the EP for a reason. Two, in fact.
The first is that, simple as it is, ‘WFH’ is a pretty decent snapshot of the malaise that comes with getting up early for work every day, coming home, falling asleep early in front of the TV, and doing the whole damn thing ad nauseam.
The second is that when we came to record, I put loads of carsick arpeggios and wonky leads over it. This lets me pretend that the song sounds like some of my favourite underrated UK bands: The Lunchtime Sardine Club, Eugene Quell and the mighty Brunch. These are all bands you should listen to right now.
Full of Stars
Let’s get the happier stuff out the way first – the riff that opens this song is a great example of how letting yourself get away with things can open up a whole song. Without that dumb chord sequence, which I played once and decided ‘that’ll do’, this song probably wouldn’t exist, and I’d never have spent hours refining the quite-good lead part in the right ear.
That aside, ‘Full of Stars’ is an unpleasant little number. It’s narrated by the same person as ‘Legendary Parties’. From the same house party, in fact. But it’s all the bits in between the dancing, the singing, the five-person bearhugs that feel like you’re communing with the cosmos.
This person spends a bit too much time in their own head, and a bit too much time alone in the toilet. They’re on the verge of figuring out that their vices aren’t going to make them feel better. But in the meantime, they’re chasing an ascent heavenward – one that’s probably not gonna come, but maybe one more bump couldn’t hurt?
In any case, they wake up alone and unhappy. Their friends are worried and pissed off, having spent the previous night rattling at the toilet door. Our hero descends into the greedy maw of a black hole that’s become far too familiar. Sorry, pal. Maybe next time.
From a Thameslink Luggage Rack
Thought I was dead clever when I came up with the title for this, sat in the titular space on a rammed commuter train. It lived in Notes on my phone for ages before I found the character for it – a once-brilliant but washed-up ad man, Ogilvy gone to seed and put out to pasture to make way for new blood.
Bizarrely, I wrote ‘Thameslink’ long before the redundancy that afforded me the time and money to record Legendary Parties. To sing the song after everything that went down is a weird kind of time-travelling catharsis.
I tried to make ‘Thameslink’ occupy a similar space to Cymbals Eat Guitars, Photo Album-era Death Cab, or recent Sinai Vessel. I wasn’t convinced by the results until some key contributions from friends.
Tom Hill, who recorded and mixed the EP, laid some lovely chords over the first chorus. Harry Fanshawe of Lifter recorded a massive billowing guitar solo that sounds like a rocket taking off.
My old friend Joe Gilder, who mastered the EP, provided a twinkling bed of keys that stopped my chug from getting too pedestrian. Thank you, boys.