Most veteran indie bands have seen their share of breathtaking highs and dispiriting lows; Fabulous Disaster is no exception. They've been a punk phenom, headlining in packed clubs in the U.S. And even more so in Europe. They've also been a four-piece band cut literally in half by retirement while still waiting for their big break to find a wider audience. Faced with the loss of key personnel (including not one but two lead singers) in the period since the release of their last full-length album (Panty Raid, 2003, Pink & Black), founding members Lynda Mandolyn and Sally Disaster regrouped and eventually reformulated with Lynda on lead vocals, Squeaky on guitar and Lizzie Boredom on bass, and Sally on drums.
It's one thing to soldier on in the face of adversity - many bands plod on long after the magic is gone. However, it's something else altogether to reinvent oneself so skillfully that prior triumphs are eclipsed. With Love At First Fight, Fabulous Disaster is giving notice that they're still playing profoundly melodic hyper-speed rock & roll, only they're now doing it even better than ever before.
The album starts off with the instant classic Such A Stupid Girl. By the time its breathtaking 1:48 is finished, we know that all is indeed very well in the world of Fab D. It's as sharp and irresistibly catchy as the band's best previous work, leaving fans no option but to rise to their feet and dance. There are a grand total of 16 tracks and this record is littered with strong, infectious songs from start to finish. Highlights include Final Stab, Needle & A Valentine, Bitterpills, Walking Down Sunset, Tidal Wave and Turn The Lights Out. The only cover song on the disc concludes the festivities - a fluid, rollicking version of T-Rex's 20th Century Boy.
As you might guess from the song titles above, lyrical themes on the album steer toward the darker side of life. These are women who've seen a lot of bad stuff go down, and they're not about to pretend the world is all cuddly puppies and pink ribbons. When Lynda says “Get in my car with the radio on, never looking back, just consider me gone”, it carries the ring of truth. But whatever unhappiness lurks in the lyrics, it never bleeds over into the music. Fabulous Disaster has always been about using the power of rock & roll to force us to dance, broken hearts be damned, and that's never been more true than on Love At First Fight.
With the band's previous guitar player taking over lead vocals one might think there would be some cause for concern, but that fear turns out to be completely groundless. Lynda has a very distinctive voice that absolutely drips with a sugar-coated hot sauce mixture that's perfect for Fab D. It's slightly incredible that a vocalist of this quality was just waiting in the wings for her chance – given this opportunity, Lynda has stepped to the plate and smashed a homerun.
Squeaky is a wildly energetic and highly skilled guitar player – no drop-off in that department, even though Lynda was/is herself a delightful axe-woman. Sally Disaster is not only one of the best drummers in the punk scene, she's one of the very best in rock & roll, period. She brings her usual combination of ultra-high intensity and deft, delicate skill to bear here once again. It's difficult to overstate Sally's impact on the band's sound – her power and artistry form a rock-solid platform from which these songs take flight. With such extraordinary talent in all the other slots, new bass player Lizzie Boredom provides a solid bottom-end presence without attempting to artificially inject herself into the spotlight. Lizzie does have plenty of rock & roll attitude though – shrinking violets are not allowed in this remarkable band.
It's significant to note that Squeaky either wrote or co-wrote seven of the fifteen original songs, with Lynda and/or Sally composing the rest. With Squeaky's and Liz's efforts merging seamlessly into the group's sound, there's every reason to believe that Fabulous Disaster is just getting started.
Written by Mike Ramsey
Love At First Fight
I Scream 820
Released on May 15, 2007
Recorded & Mixed by Bart Thurber at House of Faith Recordings, Oakland California.
Produced by Lizz Randolph © 2007 The Cover Zone and Demo-ology.com