This young band from Chennai called The F16s, formed in 2012, have grown in a relatively short period to make pretty diverse music while still subtly holding on to the styles of modern indie rock from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes and Black Keys (as they claim). Their debut Kaleidoscope EP (Aug 2013), which is a little less than half an hour, spans over seven tracks that highlight both the band’s brutal rhythm sections as well as its mellow guitar riffs and harmonies, and gives great promises for their future work.
A mix of electro-music and alternative rock, Kaleidoscope opens with a fast paced and syncopated Prelude, instantly giving away a number of the band’s influences. However, as the name suggests, it’s a very brief opener that moves into much more solid tracks as the set progresses – which brings us to Light Bulbs, featuring instantly memorable guitar and vocal melodies. The latter parts of the track also contain pulsing bass notes jumping octaves and experimentation with different kinds of percussion.
Avalanche opens with very typical Brooklyn post punk elements, including delayed guitar and snare shots driving the track, at some points featuring bass lines a little reminiscent of Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights, which is followed by King’s Dream, perhaps the strongest track in the set with its energetic punk atmosphere packed with catchy bass melodies and Julian Casablancas inspired fuzz vocals. The song itself is a take on the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Jr., and effectively changes the overall mood of the EP, despite sticking out as a sore thumb in the midst of an otherwise sober string of songs.
Although, the kind of music that The F16s seem to really want to make surfaces with the next track, Who Robbed the Rogue?, which showcases their affinity towards topping electronic instrumentation with traditional indie lyrics. The track also appears to be a very disjoint sequel to the opener Prelude and has some really interesting synth leads quickly spanning over a couple of different rhythms in a relatively short duration.
My Shallow Lover is a cliche indie track with noticeably good guitar work, but nothing else that is quite distinguishing. Add that to its length and you get the weakest track in the set. But the band more than makes up for it with their finale Nuke, which blends groovy bass lines, shrill guitar hooks and synthesized sequences. Watch out for an excellent breakdown section before it builds back into an electro-frenzy before closing.
Their ambitious music is accompanied by beautifully crafted cover-art for every track, each portraying the track’s essence with it’s own sense of melancholy that’s characteristic of modern rock of day and age.
Kaleidoscope is an interesting set of tracks for a debut, but has its signature elements weighing it down with little else to differentiate itself from most bands under the scene apart from the strong vocal harmonies. Still, what this little band from Chennai can do, given the duration of a full length album, remains to be seen.