CD: The Fancy Shapes’ “Fun City”

The Fancy Shapes: Fun City
The Fancy Shapes: Fun City
(Sukuma Records, 2010):

Last week, we dug back into the Nippertown music scene vaults and came up with “Building Bridges and Bombing Them,” a 1987 nugget from Mambo-X.

So, maybe that nifty little video got you wondering, “Hey, whatever happened to those guys?” If so, well, we’ve got at least part of the answer for you right here.

Ex-Mambo-X guitarist Seth Kaufman and bassist Seth Walter are still making music together down in Brooklyn. Their band is the Fancy Shapes, and they’ve just released their debut album, “Fun City.”

And not too surprisingly, at least on “Fun City,” the Fancy Shapes sound very much like Mambo-X. Both bands feature(d) the same line-up: bass, drums and two guitars fronted by a female vocalist. Kaufman wrote or co-wrote all of the 12 songs on “Fun City,” and the distinctive, chiming Afro-pop guitar work is still at the heart of most of the songs.

The album was recorded and mixed in Brooklyn earlier this year by Eli Janney (of Girls Against Boys), and singer Sabrina Roberts proves to be a thoroughly charming vocalist and musical focal point.

Of course, Afro-pop isn’t the only reference point on “Fun City.” The band – which also features guitarist Daniel Berchanko and drummer Dan Roth – lays down a buoyant Martha Reeves & the Vandellas/Motown groove for “Love Rush,” while “Side Kick” cribs an unmistakable East LA “La Bamba” beat as the foundation for an in-the-pocket romp.

The result is a shimmering balance of Afro-pop and American pop that’s clearly aimed at the dance-floor. And “Fun City” hits the bulls-eye.

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