Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

For their first album in four years, Fuck Buttons start with something mounting and opaque in the trance music suffering “Brainfreeze.” Fuck Buttons’ music has always been enveloping and dischordant, but it has never sounded quite so gargantuan as it does on Slow Focus. The duo now sound equipped to usher in the Muad’Dib; a far cry from the abandoned factories they used to seem eager to haunt. Slow Focus can barely keep confined to the tight space it’s allowed, and though it bears a technological resemblance to Tarot Sport, it also feels as though we’ve moved from the upper atmosphere into stellar space.

Slow Focus fb

“Year of the Dog” is a cosmic melodrama set to a dark synth arpeggiation not entirely unfamiliar to Fuck Buttons’ repertoire (see Tarot Sport’s “Space Mountain”). But everything on Slow Focus sounds grander and more in your face than it did on Tarot Sport, and so these are not so much unwelcome retreads as they are proof of development. Likewise, “Prince’s Prize” presents an even more fractured and aurally crystalline variation on the theme, with a positively icey arpeggiation that sounds like it’s being shot at (and at times, successfully disrupted) by phaser pistols. The bizzare, robotic melodrama makes for Slow Focus’ best song, and also its most distinctly motivated, as the crystalline arpeggio presents the rest of a song with a very obvious challenge to overcome and destroy.

“The Red Wing” is fueled by the kind of post-metal “extreme” music you’d expect to find in a sequel to XXX, but around the song’s back swing bursts of trumpet and sparkling synthesizer rays. There’s an attitude of hope and personal ascension to the album that is mostly conveyed through small moments like these, almost as though it’s carrying you up through its own murk and darkness. “Stalker” and “Hidden Xs” close out Slow Focus and they also happen to be the only two songs over ten minutes in length. Each is unfortunately similar to the other, with “Stalker” controlling the advantage by way of legitimate dynamic and thematic shifts throughout the song.

Slow Focus is a bombardment; it’s an album that feels fit for a throne room. And yet its soul resides in its tiny moments, in the fiddling electronics that exhibit meekness. At times Slow Focus can feel more like an affront than a dynamic collection of songs, but it is certainly a powerful comeback for Fuck Buttons and could signal a future of strong, agressive output.

4/5 bars
4 / 5 bars

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