If anyone is giving this week’s cover story subjects something to reach for, it’s FMLYBND. In the 12 short months since they were featured in our 2013 Music Issue, these Isla Vista expats have checked more than a few boxes off their musical bucket list. For starters, they’ve had a song hit Hype Machine’s coveted top slot — twice. They’ve also plugged away and reaped the benefits of some serious hard work, like landing shows with everyone from M.I.A. to Dillon Francis and booking festivals across the country. This week, the band hits another milestone with Back to Life, a four-song EP that threatens to topple their ginormous-sounding, synth-propelled empire.
Produced by and recorded with Eric Palmquist (Wavves, Trash Talk, Bad Suns), Back to Life successfully pushes FMLYBND to the heights that they were so close to reaching on their 2013 debut. Yes, it features a new take on that aforementioned chart-topping banger, “Electricity (Rush).” But it also capitalizes on the grand strides the band has made since then. “Young Wild” is the catchy youthful anthem you’d expect from the title, but it also gets way more theatrical than anything FMLYBND has done so far. And we mean that in a good way. Thanks to a heavy hand on the effects, the chorus is both breathy and eerily chaotic, and when the bass drops, it hits you square in the chest. Later, “Out of Touch” mashes up ’80s post-punk and bombastic EDM production to middling effects. It may be the EP’s weakest moment, but it sounds downright enormous. The whole thing closes on a strong note with “Come Alive (Shining),” a song that’s been in the FMLYBND repertoire for some time now but never quite hit the mark the way it does here. It’s punchy and anthemic, and it feels akin to the over-the-top synth operas that make Empire of the Sun such a mesmerizing act to catch live.
Speaking of, FMLYBND plays a release show in support of Back to Life on Friday, October 10, at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club (1221 State St.) at 9 p.m. Call (805) 962-7776 or visit sohosb.com for tickets and info.