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Fortitude Valley - Fika Recordings
Fortitude Valley is a suburb of Australia’s Brisbane and, by all accounts, it’s a fairly cool place with a particularly good reputation for it’s fashion conscious people and nightlife. It’s also the hometown of Laura Kovic, who moved to the UK over a decade ago and is more likely better known as the keyboard player for Tigercats, who has teamed up with Greg Ullyart (Night Flowers), Nathan Stephens Griffin and Daniel Ellis (both from Martha), to form the band named after her hometown. Fortitude Valley is Kovic’s band. She writes the lyrics, plays guitar and sings. With Fortitude Valley Kovic has moved away from the softer, dreamy sounds of Tigercats to a slightly harder hitting, upfront guitars and heavy drum beats based punky(ish) sound.
Inspired by doomed spacecraft, her rescue cat, lockdown and relationships it features the lead up singles released over the last couple of years. ‘All Hail The Great Destroyer’ is a classic indie tune that pays tribute to Kovic’s rescue cat. A cat that, like many others, destroys things simply for the sheer fun of it but is adored by it’s owner. ‘Cassini’ is faster, has a slightly harder, power pop edge to it full of fuzzy, infectious rhythms and inspired by the story of the now demised Cassini-Hugens spacecraft (the first to orbit Saturn) whilst debut single ‘Wreck’ paces along packed full of murmuring bass, jangly guitars and summer breeze vocals. It’s an upbeat sound with lyrics that are anything but, opening as it does with “It’s in the silence that I start to fall apart”.
The whole of this album is full of perfect, rapid fire, light indie rock tunes that, given the last 20 months or so, are defined by tales of broken friendships and relationships, insecurity, anxiety and finding small moments of happiness to cling on to. ‘The Right Thing (Part1)’ really ups the tempo with it’s soaring guitar riffs and pounding drum beat. Full of energy it’s almost as if the band suddenly decided they wanted a few moments to completely let go and have a wild time. It’s certainly a highlight of the album and one that makes your ears prick up and say “now this is a little different”. Because ultimately whilst Fortitude Valley’s debut long player is full of spikey guitars, catchy beats and melodies that will leave you with an earworm every day for the foreseeable future it’s very ‘samey’. It’s by no means boring but apart from the different inspirations behind the lyrics to each song there’s little difference between them. One may beat a little faster than another, the guitars may vary in their pitch but play it whilst you’re doing something else rather than completely focusing on it and you’d barely notice the change from one track to the next. But this is just a personal view.
Anyone who is a fan of lighter, easy listening, guitar heavy indie-pop will absolutely love this record. It doesn’t push boundaries and it’s overall sound is nothing new. But given the right exposure and commercial push it’s got the potential to appeal large numbers of people.
Fortitude Valley is released today and is now available via Fika Recordings