Fitz and the Tantrums had a unique sound with their debut album, 2010's Pickin' Up The Pieces. Their heavy Motown-style soul influence really set them apart from any other current band.
2013 brings us their follow up album, and major label debut: More Than Just A Dream. This album is a bit of a departure from Pickin' Up The Pieces. There is still a heavy soul influence on the music, however the songs certainly take on a more modern indie feel than on the previous album. The audio mix on the album also has the band sounding less like a Motown band and more like a modern indie band. Those of you looking for the big horn and flute parts that were on the first album might be a bit disappointed with the new album. These parts are still there, just not as prevalent in the mix.
That being said, the new sound on the album is great. The band has done a fantastic job on this record of mixing their 60's influences with a modern feel to create a sound on this record that is still very unique. The songs are upbeat, dancy, and maybe even more catchy than on the first album. The first track and first single, "Out Of My League," sets the tone for the whole album. The song makes you want to move and the chorus gets stuck in your head. The same can be said about every song on the album. If I was an executive at Electra, "Spark" and "6am" would be the next two singles. "Spark" is about as indie rock as they get on this album, with an emphasis on the electronics and a prevalent guitar part. The pre-chorus and chorus on that song are huge. I can see it being a big radio hit. Songs like "The Walker" and "Get Away" follow suit. Songs such as "Fools Gold," "Keepin Our Eyes Out," and "Last Raindrop" still show off that Motown influence, they just sound a bit more modern.
As an album, I think that More Than Just A Dream suffers a bit in the monotony of tempo. Every song has a similar upbeat tempo and feel. The album could have really benefited from a ballad or two to change the pace up a bit, like Pickin Up The Pieces had with "Don't Gotta Work It Out" and "Tighter." As a collection of songs, though, I'm going to be hard pressed to find 12 songs this year that I enjoy listening to as much as I enjoy the songs on More Than Just A Dream. Also, having seen them live three times after the first album came out and knowing what a great live band they are, I can't wait to hear them play these songs live!
More Than Just A Dream is an excellent album with excellent songs. I would highly recommend this album to anyone, whether you were a fan of the first album, or if you are just finding out about Fitz and the Tantrums now.