The Fill-In’s had one of my favorite albums last year with their debut full length album Hipster Killers. I got it a little late to review it, but it was such an amazing record I had no choice but to make it one of my Top 5 releases of 2014. When I was given the chance to preview and write about their second full length album Fifth Time’s the Charm, I was beyond ecstatic. It looks like they’re going to wind up as one of my favorites of 2015 too.
When I first popped in the album I was expecting more of the same: fast paced rocking tunes about drinking, partying, and having a good time. What I got instead was a bit of a departure for the band. Still fast paced, but they have a harder edge this time around, and lyrically they seem to be out to prove they’re a whole lot more than a party band. The lyrics tap into more cerebral topics like the current fade of acting like you’re a victim because someone said something you disagree with on social media, the mindless pursuit of people trying to be something they aren’t, while still tossing in a song or two showing that the band aren’t all serious all the time. Musically, the band is better than ever, showing tightness in their chemistry and stretching out their abilities more. Guitarist Mikey Black tears up a fretboard, and it shows on this album. While able to play a blazing lead, he can also show tasteful melodic abilities too. Drummer Matt McCoy is such a powerhouse, playing with such power and authority. Bassist James “Cap” Nunn is a brilliant player as well, adding some sweet bass lines throughout. Frontman/guitarist Alex Stiff continues demonstrating that he doesn’t give a shit about stepping on people’s toes, saying exactly what is on his mind. His voice seems to have even more bite to it this time. Songs like “Spit In My Face,” “You’re the Victim,” “If You Want It To Be,” and “Too Fast To Live” were the ones I connected to instantly, but the whole album is a fantastic.
Not exactly punk, but definitely with a punk attitude, this is classic guitar driven hard rock sorely missing these days. Powerful, catchy songs delivered with reckless abandon while never straying too far from what brought them to the table, Fifth Time’s the Charm is a smart, mature release from what has quickly become one of my favorite bands. Also have to give a shout out to Fifman Studios and producer Steve Coleman for capturing the rawness of The Fill-in’s live spirit while at the same time allowing them to step out of their zone a little bit and try a different focus. This is truly a fantastic album full of catchy yet raging songs, top notch playing, and a perfect mix of angst and joy that it gives it balance. Of course where this band truly destroys is on stage. If they’re hitting a stage close to you go. I’ve seen them several times already and they get better and better.
Written by: Chris Martin