It’s been a little more than a decade since Fastball’s breakout hit “The Way” smashed onto the radio waves and propelled the band into the mainstream.
Since then, the Texas trio has gradually drifted out of the limelight, but it hasn’t stopped creating music that is both catchy and poignant without being overly complex. Little White Lies, the band’s fifth studio album, continues in that tradition, showcasing the band’s matured, superior musicianship and diversity.
The driving, up-tempo opener, “All I Was Looking for Was You,” sets the tone for the rest of the album, establishing some of the vintage elements of Fastball’s sound. Lead singers Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga trade vocals and harmonize throughout this song and the rest of the album – two voices that, while completely distinct and different, blend as beautifully as they did in the late ‘90s.
Fastball has been known for its fusing of eclectic musical influences and varied instrumentation. Little White Lies is not widely groundbreaking for the group in terms of the apparent musical styles with which the band is toying.
However, the band rather daringly experiments on the disco-esque title track, “Little White Lies,” in which Scalzo sings, “I tell myself these little white lies, like I don’t miss you / I tell myself these little white lies, and I just walk around with my eyes closed.”
Another new adventure for the band is “Angelie,” a slow tango-style ballad.
The clap-inducing “Mono to Stereo” is catchy enough for the entire album, with its two-guitar melody and gripping chorus hook. Zuniga sings about a girl who “changed my world from mono to stereo” and whom he thinks about “from Sunday to Saturday.”
The bouncy, piano-driven “She’s Got the Rain” is similarly infectious, displaying the band’s usual knack for effective major and minor chord changes.
The daydreamy “Always and Never” mixes guitar and keyboard melodies for a mellowed-out sound unlike anything on previous Fastball recordings.
“Rampart Street” is a quick-paced rock tune reminiscent of Fastball’s 1996 debut album, Make Your Mama Proud, on which it sounded more like an alternative punk rock band.
The album is rounded out by the brilliant finale, “Soul Radio.” Here, enchanting verses build up to a highly exuberant chorus that drones on and becomes gradually more intense to finish off the record.
Little White Lies is nothing extremely innovative for Fastball. It is not some kind of career-defining, artistic concept album. It is not an experimental excursion into a new genre of music.
It is, however, the mark of a band’s continued mastery of the three-and-a-half-minute rock song and its staying power. Fans of the group’s earlier work will truly enjoy this solid latest effort.
Fastball has proved once again that it isn’t going anywhere, no matter how long ago the ‘90s were.
Kevin Brosky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.