POV: You’re at your first Halloween party since COVID ruined everyone’s life and the vibe is kinda off… (who isn’t suffering from quarantine-induced social anxiety and awkwardness?). The host frantically asks you to “put on something everyone will want to dance to”. What do you do? You throw on Fortunate Youth’s newest album, obviously. Their fifth studio album, Good Times (Roll On), is a beacon of light in a time when things are a little (A LOT) uncertain, jam-packed with horn-laden bangers guaranteed to make any and all shake dem hips. It’s an encouraging saga, harkening back to the days of pre-COVID hangouts and a tale of ragers not yet had. They literally have a song called “Sunlight”, a narrative about partying until — you guessed it — sunlight… annnd, the cops showing up. So, if that doesn’t qualify this album for automatic shindig play, I really don’t know what does.
One of the most iconic themes in ‘Good Times (Roll On)’ is the extensive use of complex brass arrangements.
While this isn’t news to veteran FY fans, new listeners who expect the spotlight shone on lead singer Dan Kelly’s smoky pipes (no pun intended) or bassist Corey Draskovitch’s sexy/dirty/funky bass lines or guitarist Greg Gelb’s soothing riffs, may be surprised to find the brass section takes a front-and-center position in most tracks. These elaborate arrangements are primarily credited to John Kromenacker, who also plays trumpet alongside Art Critchlow on tenor and baritone saxophone, Bryan Northern on the alto saxophone and Geoff Grice on trombone. Just like the relationship with your ex, it’s complicated.
Right out of the gate, the opening track “Too Big” smacks you in the face with aggressively uplifting and motivational lyrics — “you’re too big for them to make you small”. These much-needed lines of inspiration form a perfect juxtaposition against the quintessential trumpet’s staccato 16th notes that introduce the song — an articulation you’ve heard in every single genre of music you’ve ever listened to, but never knew what to call it (credit to Drake Peterson for this bit of info). Coupling this age-old sound with a jazzy, syncopated saxophone is enough to warrant ‘the face’ — don’t even try and pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s the supreme vibe all music aspires to: when your face scrunches up and your whole body sways and writhes from the top of your head through your hips in a desperate attempt to hear and feel every note all the way down into your soul.
Speaking of soul, let’s talk about Corey’s favorite song on the album, “Burning with You”…
This dreamy little ditty nods to The Temptations’ legendary chorus “Just My Imagination”, peppered with classic Fortunate Youth flavor and baked to perfection with Dan’s maple syrup voice. A true love song through and through, “Burning with You” verbalizes the feeling that comes so rarely, whether it be infatuation or twin flame: the utter and absolute need to be close to your beloved. Possibly the truest and most paralyzing of all emotions, this once-in-a-blue-moon fire that burns deep inside us deserves recognition of this magnitude and, boy, does this track do it justice. “Could it be something I lost // Something I see // Can’t wait to get to you”… like, are you kidding me?! *swoon*
Good Times (Roll On) is medicine for the soul. Depressed? Anxious? Listless? Languishing? Waiting for the world to change? This album’s got you covered. It allows a pause in the chaos, a reprieve from the madness, a break in the storm. Encouraging, nay, promising better days, Fortunate Youth gives us the hope we’ve been so desperately searching for these past 20 months, even if it’s just for 42 minutes.
Purchase or stream ‘Good Times (Roll On)’ album:
- Too Big
- Around the World, feat. Mellow Mood
- Burning with You
- The City
- The Situation
- Good Times (Roll On)
- Em Interlude
- Riddim Rydah, feat. Skillinjah & Dread Kennedy
- Groovin, feat. Iya Terra
- The Cure
Fortunate Youth – “Good Times (Roll On)”
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.