Released: March 25, 2016
Label: Diabolical Records
A greater helping of the most influential, seminal punk acts are the ones that don’t water down their craft with gimmicks, or tamper with fundamental elements of their live sound. For some, the triumph in their existence at a post-punk movement’s genesis was in the message. On other accounts, bands played into their aesthetic as the defining feature of their creed. Over the years, many an artful personality has chosen and soaked in the influences and knowledge obtained by studying the innovators of a music scene. Better yet, fewer have taken the keys to crafting truly great bands and a collective musical prowess to meld their own niche sound. Fresh out of Salt Lake City, Foster Body have released their own take on panicked spurts of energetic intelligence with Moving Display. Post-punk in itself has seen a mini-renaissance this decade, particularly with bands sparking new and exciting outputs of self-expression, and hero worship of the men and women of the movements spawning in the United States, the UK, and all over the world. Within the confines of a blanket term genre, the Utah based quartet provide a concise blend of tunes, invoking an artful tendency of frantic aggression in their sound.
Right out of the gate, Moving Display vibes to the very motion it projects in its track titles personified, with marching drums driving each melody forward. Songs are crafted in booming bursts of pale energy that charge with a playful fervor. At the same time, the vastness in the atmosphere proves to create a frantic pacing side by side with lead vocalist Robin Banks’ bold vibrato. Consider the borderline comical styles projected in something like The Feelies’ classic debut, Crazy Rhythms, and listeners can gather a clear idea of what to expect here, just in smaller doses. Banks, along with bassist Dyana Durfee find a consistent back-and-forth in vocal duties, Durfee often lurking in the background of songs with demanding shouts. On the song “Listen” for example, jarring guitar and a consistent plucking bass provide the stage to highlight what Foster Body use to their advantage on the slower numbers, that is, displaying illustrious emotion in shouting voices with only a minimal amount of instrumentation; “You’re filling up the air, you’re taking up space”, she wails in line with Foster Body’s overarching anxiety in execution.
For each “slow jam”, there appears to be an equal and opposite wild resolve to pardon for it in absence. That works to Foster Body’s advantage as far as diversification is concerned in the overall layout of the record, but at its heart, Moving Display is almost too short to really take notice of the compiling of sounds and experimentation. Considering their closest comparisons, even taking masters of short bursts of art-punk anthems such as The B-52’s and Devo, the magic of the new wave movement of the late 1970’s was in bands’ abilities to cite innovative additions to a dying punk rock sound. Not that we should expect a cut copy formula out of this generation’s revivalists, but it’s difficult to hit the right chords (no pun intended) as a new, innovative group given the type of music one plays, and the amount of space and time created to fully blossom. It’s certainly not fair to ask that of Foster Body to become like their ancestors, as they exist in a different day and age.
Their craft follows a new wave brand of post-punk, and that is their forte. Where they truly shine is on songs like “You Were Not You” and “Touching & Moving,” where the instrumentation develops into an enrapturing display of musicianship altogether. The former track is a perfect example of the beautiful syncopation and tightness in the back and forth vocals chomping at the bit one after another, at times even overlapping. Pair that with crashing cymbals and a myriad of nifty guitar licks. The song transitions into a building climax, with punching drums and driving bass, all leading to Robin Banks’ repetitive yet captivating uneasiness, reeling off over and over “you were not to blame, for you were not you”.
At times, the abruptness in tracks less than two minutes leave a little more to be desired, given the unorthodox nature of their delivery, and sophistication in mature themes of pseudo-mental breakdowns put on record. In any case, the fast-paced flurry in a trifecta ensemble from “Safe Betrays The Medicine” to “See-See” relish the band in its self-aware diversity as both students of chaotic punk rock, and careful introspection. Surely, passion overflows throughout the entirety of Moving Display, yet the four members of Foster Body shine brightest as a collective of clever wordplay, and intertwined noise. When the band really clicks as a cohesive unit is at points where the instruments can jam in unison, and experimentation runs rampant with clean guitar riffs and creeping bass. Give Moving Display a listen on account of a unique sound being resurrected once again thanks to the Salt Lake City quartet. Seriously, Kirsten Dunst can vouch for them.