Faz Waltz are a 3 piece from Italy who draw heavily on glam and early protopunk foundations for their musical influences. Formed in 2007 they have gigged and toured extensively, developing their sound along the way. Their new album Double Decker is the band’s sixth release.
It is a joyous romp through eleven songs that take their cues from the sounds of 70’s glam. However, the boisterous overtones of the flamboyant sound of bands like Slade and The Sweet is tempered with a much lighter touch that introduces subtler aspects to their musical palette. The guys in Faz Waltz know when to let loose with uproarious abandon and how to bring in a delicate layered vocal harmony around a piano. It is these perhaps less expected touches that add a little more depth to the album as a whole.
Such additions are deployed sparingly though and the overall sensation is of a band who would tear up a stage, retaining a close connection to their points of reference. The air of bootboy glam hangs over these tracks but not so heavily that they become clogged in nostalgic pastiche. There are also clear nods to this approach in their visual aesthetic, the promo shots featuring the band aboard an old routemaster bus, appropriately enough given the title of the album, donning slightly flared trousers and sheepskin coats.
The majority of the album is presented with heavy overtones of T-Rex and there is even an explicit reference to one of their songs, whatever happened to the Teenage Dream on Is this the way. The vocal style also has echoes of Bolan’s distinctive elocution, drawing words out in elongated syllables. The other trait that features heavily is the steady thumping back beat, which much like Bootboy and prepunk rhythms feel as if they could be banged out in a football stadium by an amped up crowd.
The album gets going with Shakin Like an Hooligan, a slickly delivered number full of swagger. You could imagine this being sung by David Johansen. There is also the inclusion of a piano in the song, which is revisited a number of times throughout Double Decker, to good effect.
Julie is the lead single of the album and from the opening bars you can see why. It struts along with a real fervour, coupling a solid central riff with tightly synced vocals and rhythm section. All of which contributes to a track that will have you nodding your head and quite possibly throwing a few shapes. The guys don’t overcomplicate things, there is a short breakdown which strips things right back but the track works because it is anchored on a great riff.
Dancing in My shoes is another track that effectively captures this vibrant approach. It’s a feel good number about the restorative potential of listening to rock and roll, having a dance and ‘rocking away the blues.’ Jive Jive has a real powerful chugging riff and an infectious groove. This is bolstered by a catchy chorus delivered with ebullience, making for a top quality track.
Come on and Squeeze Me and Sleepy Head are pared down in terms of tempo whilst retaining the steady backbeat and dominant guitar of the faster numbers. Sleepy Head even injects a hint of slightly fuzzy psychedelia into proceedings.
Is this the way is a more stripped back and reflective acoustic number, ‘rock and roll never paid the bills, I’m still searching for something real.’ The accompanying percussion is much lighter as the piano part is allowed to come to the foreground of the song. The melancholy air and more subdued accompaniment gives it a slight feel of the Bowie song rock and roll suicide.
The band cite The Beatles as an influence and truthfully I couldn’t really pick up on that aesthetic until the final song of the album Under the Rainbow. From the whispered count in at the start it has the gentleness of the Fab Four in their more stripped back mode, bringing vocal harmonies together over a piano led piece. It is a nice way to end, allowing a slower more measured aspect of the band’s repertoire to shine through.
Double Decker is a great album, led by some really well executed and lively tubthumping tracks. This is clearly the style that Faz Waltz are most comfortable with and they play it exceptionally well. It is this sound that feels as if it would translate best into their live set. However the inclusion of the more reserved tracks on the album works and provides some variation, meaning that the tracklisting flows well without becoming repetitious. It is a finely wrought record that captures a band who are clearly very comfortable in their sound. They should be too, as there isn’t a duff track to be found. The spirit of Glam is very much alive and Faz Waltz are channeling it like a mirrorball platformed medium.