Fist Fight in the Parking Lot
Released July 14, 2017
By Kate Drozynski
As whiskey ages, it gets smoother, richer, more complex, all without losings the strength and bite that makes whiskey, well, whiskey. The same can be said of Fist Fight in the Parking Lot. Three years after their last album, the Pittsburgh foursome bust out of the barrel with 714, a seven-song album released on July 14 that’s the musical equivalent of a single malt scotch.
714 starts off formidable with “Miss Emma,” 3 minutes and 23 seconds of pure rock that would make Queens of the Stone Age proud. Instead of Josh Homme’s charred vocals, Abby Krizner’s fluid voice dips between guitar and drums, with just a touch of an arching growl as she lifts to the higher notes. John McCallough’s bass, more intricate than expected for such a forceful track, holds the whole thing together. Chris Ruane is the percussive backbone giving it all structure.
“Open Slopes” and the titular “714” follow suit, both sticking strictly to dark, driving rock drenched in booze and sex. Jason Sichi’s guitar solos are never over-the-top and virtuosic, but rather slide seamlessly into each song. He avoids the great guitarist pitfall of using his solo time to show off and instead chooses to suit his style to complement each tune.
“Downward Sampson” and “Big Chief” stall the driving force of the album by slowing the tempo and dropping the candid, stoic mood. The pseudo-ballads almost feel obligatory, somehow cheesy against the straightforward rock. That’s not to say there’s no heart behind the slower songs. Krizner croons over creeping, angsty guitar, reminiscent of mid-career Smashing Pumpkins. It’s a distinct turn from the tone of the rest of the album, but not a complete departure.
714 shows growth from Fist Fight in the Parking Lot. A lot has changed since 2014’s Year of the Ox, and their sound reflects that well. It’s sleeker, more mature and seems more deliberate than their previous work. The band is tight; the vocals are skillful and sincere. As great as cheap beer is, fine aged whiskey will get you there quicker, smoother and with less regret. Same with 714. It’s a step above the Fist Fight albums of the past, but with the same honesty, fire and pure rock that you’ve come to expect.
Tell us what you think of the new album in the comments below!