The rollout of Fellow Creatures’ first LP has been a long time coming, spanning nearly three years following the dissolution of member Sam McCormally’s previous outfit Ugly Purple Sweater.
Between the occasional single surfacing on Bandcamp and a string of performances around DC, the fuller sound Fellow Creatures has been alluded to in the form of shuffling, accessibly driving tunes such as “Wouldn’t You Like to Know” and “Séance (SHUKA)” never fleshed out in a longer form, until the release of their eponymous album this month.
I bring this up because on their self-titled release—co-produced by local composer Louis Weeks–the band has provided a degree of range that highlights a depth of sound previously unheard on behalf of Fellow Creatures. Rather than dive aggressively into the shuffle-stomp of their past discography, the album starts on a decidedly more emotive note with the minimal “Try Not To Think About It,” marked by an absence of the up-tempo progressive drive of their single releases, before moving into the industrial “Silurian Stomp.” This ebb and flow between the hectic frenzy and the pensive reserve, all the while retaining the mix of alt rock and esoteric electronica, is what makes this album a well-paced yet incredibly emotive first effort by the group.
Tracks like “Arid Zones” explore new avenues of sound unheard by Fellow Creatures up to this point and highlight the musical strength of Will McKindly-Ward and McCormally. The point-counterpoint of guitar and synth on this track, combined with their interweaving melodies, eschew the heavier electronic qualities of songs like “Séance” in a way that highlights the group’s ability to vibe as a cohesive whole.
That being said, the whirlwind of energy behind “Wouldn’t You Like to Know” and “Allies,” the sounds that built the reputation of the group prior to this album’s drop, still give the band an outlet to demonstrate their ability to put together a variety of moving instrumental parts in a way both complex and accessible.
The album does suffer to a degree from starting out the gate too strong; tracks “Life Alone” and “Beamships” don’t really bring anything new to the table by the LP’s end. However, this speaks more to the level of innovation that characterizes the album’s first act rather than any fault of Fellow Creatures– there’s always a glass ceiling with regard to the amount of instrumental innovation one can produce on an album while still having a cohesive, bounded sound.
Overall, the record is a dramatic and overall incredibly well-rounded effort. The amount of work and passion put into this release over the last few years reads through the album’s entire duration; I only hope we won’t have to wait as long for their follow-up.