The first time I saw Fitz and the Tantrums was in 2009, when they opened as a rather unknown band for Maroon 5 in the gymnasium of San Angelo State University. I was the only one of my group allowed onto the floor in front of the stage because I was at least 16. It was one of those shows where you immediately know the band you’re watching onstage is going to be huge one day. I’m glad that turned out to be the case because few performers clearly love their jobs as much as the members of Fitz and the Tantrums. Since then, they’ve released three studio albums, each evolving from their initial musical style self-described as “soul-influenced indie pop.” This week they are releasing their fourth album, “All the Feels,” a 17-track album full of some of the band’s most vulnerable and uplifting music yet.
Fitz and the Tantrums clearly have some emotions they’re going through, and it's good to hear they’re open about it. Right from the start the album is clear in its message. Themes of discovering healthy relationships, protecting one’s heart and finding self-affirmation are found often in the band’s music. “I Need Help” is a perfect example of that emotional honesty. The song is strong, pulsing and has a momentum that runs through the entirety of the album. “OCD” is a straight up treat, with some of the most original sounds on the album and a chorus that you’ll sing in your car without even knowing it.
I always liked the fact that guitar is rarely used in Fitz and the Tantrum’s music, since it allows for unique drum and percussion combinations that perfectly accentuate the high energy nature of the band. “Don’t Ever Let Em” is a simple song and one of my very favorites. Its lovely message and relatable lyrics will stick with you whenever you need a pick me up song. “Belladonna” is easily the grooviest track on the album, showcasing the talents of vocalist Noelle Scaggs, and utilizing some strange and interesting instrument combinations.
Longtime fans might lament this album’s relative lack of bright saxophone riffs and the soul influences present in the band’s earlier work. “Ready or Not” and “Livin’ for the Weekend” are so bass heavy and repetitive they sound more like Imagine Dragons songs than the innovative music Fitz and the Tantrums are known for. A few of the songs have an almost too-perfect quality that makes you think you’ll be hearing them over commercials for the next year or two. However, even with a whopping 17 tracks, each song on the album has a musical profile and emotional energy all its own.
Fitz and the Tantrums has always shined in live performances more so than on their studio recordings. The percussion that defines their style is louder than ever, and the cheesing smiles between Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs are infectious with joy. Because of this, and how much I’ve enjoyed listening to “All the Feels” over the past week, I’m already planning to catch them live when they come through Texas in a few months. The music they make just makes me happy, and I think that’s exactly what they were going for.