Fun Service: “No Place Like” Album Review

Written By: Ethan Griggs

My Music: ethangriggsmusic.virb.com

If you are going to name your band Fun Service, it better live up to the hype. Thankfully, that’s just what these Ukrainian indie-darlings do on their new full length LP, No Place Like. While they write and sing their songs in English, the trio of singer/guitarist Vitaliy Gavrilenko, bassist Anton Mykhailenko, and drummer Artem Kuznetsov are beginning to develop a following in their native city of Kiev with their fresh brand of indie rock dipped in the psychedelic sounds of the ‘60s and interesting song concepts.

One of the most immediately striking qualities of this album is the innate catchiness of many of the songs. The album opener “In the Morning” rises with the day to create a sunshine effect of beautiful falsetto vocals from Gavrilenko, along with a mix of hard rock and Beatle-esque psych-pop (Gavrilenko’s voice is even a bit reminiscent of Paul McCartney himself on this track). On the standout track “Thief” the music travels a bit further west to incorporate some blues riffage into the mix. “And though you fake it I know the truth/And though you change it I know the gloom(?)/And though you fake it I know the truth about you/Thief!” sings Gavrilenko before a raging sax section rips through the mix to add a razor sharpness to the song.

From there, we have funky psych rockers like “Chill” (providing one of the catchiest chorus on the album, as well as great lead guitar line), and also numbers like “Sapphire” which are a bit darker in their tone. As Gavrilenko sings on the later track, “It feels right”.

The record takes a bit of a left turn in the intro to “W.H.I.D.”, a synth-driven number that is reminiscent of some of the more “European” sounding pop music of the eighties and nineties. Coming at the halfway mark of the album, it provides a nice contrast to the more rocking numbers that come before and after it. There’s been plenty of sonic texture for the listener to dip their fingers into – and we haven’t even got to the cowbell yet! “Sunset Boogie” has one of the best arrangements on the album, with a rhythm that plummets you on the head with, yes, cowbell.

The track most likely to break this band into the American mainstream would be the blues-rock number “Careless”. With a pre-chorus that is unmistakably influenced by the psychedelic 60’s (think “Hey Joe” with Jimi Hendrix on organ rather than guitar). “Move, you move me/I’m getting closer/You can’t break me down/You’re just a little poser”, sings Gavrilenko over a musical feast of guitars and synthesizers. Getting the song playing over the airwaves to the west would be a great move for this band at this point, as it is what is popular in many American markets in this day and age. If you’re over in Europe, however, be sure to catch Fun Service live promoting No Place Like, and album that is a jumpstart to a career that looks pretty promising from the outset.