reviewed by Kaitlin Ruether
When you look at the album artwork for Fungus’ debut EP, D’Well, you catch a sense of the mood that the album holds. The flowers, rattle, and laundry signify something of domestic life, but the figure in the centre is hunched over, holding themselves below the items that air out above. The music of Fungus, too, turns away from expectations and instead wraps itself in a blanket of plunging sound.
The songs on D’Well have their writing accredited to vocalist and guitarist Vivika Ballard, who uses lyrics to create mood over sense. “Summertime Blues” features this fragmented vision: “Bathroom stall. Eyes all ‘round. Head to palms. Lost and found, and lost.” Is this as relatable to the masses as it is to me? The space between the words, what goes unsaid, opens up these songs to interpretation that the music — the pounding grunge bass and effected guitar — fills with heavy context.
Fungus calls their sound ‘bog rock’, and the down-in-the-dirt bass tones that the music revels in compliments this coinage. There is a lot of 90s influence here — particularly with Ballard’s melodic guitar. She brings the feeling of falling out of a tree to life on “Fell From a Tree”, then moves into the playful guitar sweet-spots of “Snake in a Cup”. Nostalgia is very present on “I Taste Poison”, which has the vocals effected so as to sound like they are coming out of an old radio while a partied shouting occurs in the foreground.
D’Well has enough grunge to carry its ‘bog rock’ flag, but the melodic tendencies and nods to nostalgia feel like a creek carrying fresh water into the swamp. When it comes to this bog, think less standing water, and more diverse ecosystems.
Top Track: “Summertime Blues”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)