Not often do you find a band who has experienced success yet still has the desire to explore new sonic directions. Los Angeles' Film School, a band who released two critically acclaimed album on Beggars Banquet, played sold out shows across Britain with Mercury Prize nominees British Sea Power, toured Europe with The National, headlined multiple North American tours, and was hand-picked by UK legends Swervedriver to open their 2008 North American reunion tour, felt like mixing things up a bit this time around.
Fission is an album of clarity, energy, and change. One of the most notable differences on this album is the more prominent vocal presence of bassist Lorelei Plotczyk. From the first notes on the opening track, "Heart Full Of Pentagons," you can hear the band moving into new territories. "There were tons of ideas and melodies floating around the rehearsal room, including some amazing full songs being brought in. I could tell this was going to be a totally different kind of album for Film School and I wanted to get out of the way and let it happen," says Bertens. The result is a dynamic mix of songwriting by Bertens, Plotczyk and Ruck with help from guitarist Dave Dupuis and drummer James Smith.
“When I’m Yours,” is a tautly composed dancefloor burner that fires off brisk beats and electropop keyboard lines only to open up halfway into the song to a lush guitar wash and soaring vocal melody. That sonic revelation—a sort of frenetic tension building to cathartic release—is a fitting introduction to an album that takes the Film School sound in new directions that will no doubt surprise some listeners. Fission delivers the layers of reverbed guitars, swirling keyboards, and strong rhythm section that the band is known for, but adds more harmonies, danceable beats, and pop sensibilities, making it Film School’s most accessible album to date.
In other tracks, listeners will hear echoes of Lush and Yo La Tengo, but in a modern way. “Waited” is a classic indie rock duet, with fuzzy guitars add counterpoint to the song’s bittersweet male-female vocals. "Sunny Day", with its jangly rhythm, dreamy singing, tambourine accents, and heavily distorted guitar lines, is equal parts Paisley Underground and early ’90s Britpop. “Distant Life” is a punchy nugget of a pop song, while “Bones” showcases a sweetly melancholic chorus laced with strings and piano.
Mixed and mastered by Dan Long (The Jealous Girlfriends, Ferraby Lionheart) and produced by Bertens, Fission is the next evolution in the sound of a band that only seems to get better with time.