Fitz & The Tantrums Pickin Up The Pieces Album Review
On their 2012 debut, Pickin Up The Pieces, Fitz & The Tantrums delivered a Motown inspired, modern day R&B delight. Since then, they’ve climbed up the Billboard Heatseekers chart, performed on both Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon, and appeared in several festivals around the country including the this weekend’s upcoming Firefly Music Festival in Delaware.
Last October, lead vocalist Michael Fitzpatrick and his band mates rode their hot streak into Boston for a show at the area’s House of Blues. This past week, Fitz & The Tantrums released, for free, an EP containing five songs from their HOB Boston set. Included on the giveaway (available when fans sign up for their email newsletter) are three tracks from Pickin Up The Pieces, and two surprise covers done remarkably well.
Overall, the EP is a tasty sample of the sort of energy fans can expect from Fitzpatrick, Noelle Scaggs, and the rest of the band at their best. And they’re not just banging out a few songs because their name is on the marquee. These neo-soul, indie pop stars seem to genuinely enjoy performing apparent even without being able to see them shuffling and gyrating about.
Michal Fitzpatrick revels in his role as ringmaster, announcing the titles of songs as if they’re fantastical new discoveries at the turn of the 20th century. He ropes in the crowd with his heartsick, everyman introductions of love gone awry. He could simultaneously bring up and bring down the house lights of a venue with his warring emotions of vigor and sorrow.
Fitz doesn’t completely hog the spotlight as everyone in the band gets their turn; especially his co-presenter and duet partner, Scaggs, whose crooning and howling resonates vociferously with the power of a gospel singer. Her presence is felt throughout, but she takes center stage on the final two tracks when she’s unleashed on covers of The Raconteurs and The Eurhythmics songs respectively.
Fitz & The Tantrums unexpectedly and delightfully treat their audience to sped up, bouncing covers of â€œSteady As She Goes and Sweet Dreams that’s in addition to live versions of album cuts “Breakin’ The Chains Of Love,” “Pickin’ Up The Pieces,” and an brilliant seven and half minute take on “News For You.Sweet Dreams is one of the highlights as the band turns Annie Lennox’s famously despondent lullaby into a psychedelic, ska tinged crowd stomper complete with audience participation.
Moreover, the quality of the music is a revelation to hear live. They sound like a jam band, but more focused thanks to their lead singers. The flute, keyboard and saxophone work really shines on this live recording, evidencing the talent that lies within their fingertips.
House of Blues Boston EP 2 is a snack meant to hold the fans over until the fall release of Fitz &The Tantrums follow up (a process that anyone can follow via behind the scenes access on their website.) Nevertheless, its real purpose is to serve as an appetizing teaser, creating a hunger for more Fitz and more of the Tantrums.