I have to admit, I chose to review this album with little knowledge of the band, based solely on the strength of their single, “La Mano De Lucifer,” from their debut album, Something Supernatural. “La Mano De Lucifer” is one of my favorite songs of all time. Listening to it is a semi-religious experience for me, and I am uncomfortably serious about that. So maybe my bar was set too high. I was hoping for more transcendent moments on Welcome to Fat City, and I didn’t find any.
Let me clear: there is absolutely nothing wrong with this album. It’s heavy, fun, melodic, clever. Brandon Yaegley’s vocals are capable, the band is tight. The release is also supported by an insanely funny and surprisingly cute music video, which you should definitely watch. Crobot has crossed all their t’s and dotted all their i’s, but it feels like something’s missing.
The first half of the album is front-loaded with hard-rocking head-bangers. Strangely, this is the blandest part of the record for me. The lead single, “Not For Sale,” is probably a big crowd pleaser, but I thought it lacked in dynamics. It felt relentlessly hard and heavy to me, without enough build, tension or release. I began to feel disappointed, to think I was listening to an album of decent, unremarkable heavy metal. Hooks and tasty riffs abounded, yet failed to satisfy.
With track six, “Temple In The Sky,” my faith in Crobot was restored. Sludgier and moodier, it gave me the stoner metal fix I’d been craving. Throughout the rest of Fat City, it was the slower and darker numbers that grabbed me, notably the grungy “Moment of Truth” and doomy closer “Plague of the Mammoths.” “Right Between The Eyes” is another standout, hard-hitting and full of menace, yet making effect use of small, dramatic silences.
For me, Fat City was a mixed bag. Bluesy harmonica shows up on “Easy Money” and “Steal The Show.” I can hang with harmonica when done right, but on these tracks it felt a bit intrusive and distracting. I also found the lyrical content to be mostly lukewarm. Concerns about money, greed, and selling out are prominent on Fat City. This is understandable for the sophomore album of a little band facing big success. For those of us who aren’t in the same boat, they aren’t necessarily the most relatable problems. (Then again, I like Crobot’s lyrics best when they’re touching on occult themes, so maybe being "relatable" has nothing to do with it.)
Fat City is a solid release, which (for me at least) somehow fails to cast a spell. I found it disappointing, mostly because I was hoping to experience a little more black magic. But only the greatest albums of the greatest bands create wizardry consistently. The fact that I even dared to expect such from Crobot is more a compliment than anything.
7.0 / 10
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