Fever and Chills
Reviewed by: Ziggy Merritt
I don’t often have the luxury of identifying a piece of art that I can genuinely say I have not yet experienced. This is not to say I’ve experienced everything there is to experience, that would be beyond arrogant. When I listen to an album I often try to compare it to another artists or album without thinking. It’s hardwired into most to identify sounds and arrangements that are similar in structure to tracks and compositions previously heard. Upon listening to Powerkompany’s two-part LP, Fever & Chills, there’s a notable absence of this impulse, which, in part, works in its favor.
Fever & Chills is split into two distinct six-track parts. Only in the lyrical substance and orchestral aspirations do these two halves resemble each other. The first half, Fever is gifted with bombastic freedom, while Chills is much more subdued and dreamy; both halves are perfectly suited for their names.
Fever enters with “Pretty Girl Wrong” a frenetically paced track that pushes out untamed orchestration along with disconnected vocals provided by Marie Davon. While the range of Davon’s vocals is impressive throughout and the production quality is notably top-notch, the mash of the two within this single track is packed with far too much dissonance. The following track and the lead single from the album, “Can’t Cry”, does well to tame these impulses, blending vocals and orchestra into something more digestible and even brilliant. The horn section adds an inspiring touch against the electronic flourishes that might place this somewhere in the climax of an ’80s soundtrack. What follows from “Even More Than This” to “Need a Break” is hit and miss with a somewhat frustrating inconsistency. Knowing that Davon often incorporates a multi-media theatrical touch to her performances, perhaps the missing element from Fever is the digital distance from these live shows.
Yet, where Fever may have flexed its maximalist approach to an extreme, the minimalist presence of Chills does not move in the opposite direction. There’s more of a guided approach to the songwriting and lyricism, which similar to the first half is packed with liberated sexuality and infatuation. “Like” and “Holiday” shine alongside dreamy synths and a more pronounced and welcome layer of violin making these the standouts of this second half. “Dreams” is also a fantastic addition with the orchestral arrangement enhancing the epic feel of the multi-layered vocals. Taking this all in it’s difficult to place where Fever & Chills fits in the lineage of pop music. It places somewhere between the undefinable art rock of Kate Bush and perhaps a John Hughes film, yet even this generalization is a stretch. Its strength and weakness is moving past its inspirations to become something imperfect yet unique.