The genre terms “dark wave” applies to bands from the new wave and post punk era whose compositions are largely based on minor key tonality and introspective lyrics, mixing romance with bleakness and sorrow. Led by the cool, hipster mostly monotone vocals of singer/guitarist Preston Newberry, the intense, dreamy, trippy, blistering and fiery Forth Worth band The Fibs make that genre pop and sound as tightly wound, fresh and delirious as it did some close to 40 years ago.
On tracks like “Stella,” smack dab in the middle, they prelude the dark distant edges with the scorching guitars of Joel Raif, as if trying to make it a metal hybrid. That same crowded cacophony hits us at the very start of the album, in the opening strains of “Waiting For a Train.” But let’s not let those blisters take us away from the rhythmic excitement, the atmospheres and the true soul that lies underneath these textures. The brooding is appealing, while the over the top guitars and vocals on tunes like “Lexicon” (including filtered vocals that render the lyrics barely discernible) seem designed to shock rather than inspire.
It’s ironic that a song called “Kerosene” is one of the less blazing. It’s got a lengthy intro full of hypnotic lead guitar, atmosphere and deep grooving before one of Newberry’s most emotional vocals takes hold. There’s even a chime or two hinting at the bright, funked up spirituality to come on “Simply Divine” and touches of playful surf guitar and doo-wop behind the singer’s sultry, dreamy leads on the most charming and accessible track, “Sapphire Eyes.”
As for themes and lyrics, suffice to say that the front man prefers to keep his storytelling a bit guarded and coded. He did offer that when he was penning these songs, he was reading stuff from Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca – which may have subconsciously inspired him. Until we can figure out what he’s trying to communicate, let the vibe take over. Take the hard edges with a grain of salt, but dig deeper and you’ll feel the atmospheric, soulful dark flow taking over.