Getting back to basics
There is a lot of nostalgia in fanclubwallet’s sound. Even as dream-pop has slowed in popularity since the late 2010s, there is still a plethora of interesting, valuable music coming from these artists worldwide. For many, there is a desire to completely upend dream-pop’s sound.
Innovation means creating something that dims the appeal of dream-pop for many, which is the intimacy of the production as if the artist is in the room. fanclubwallet does not reinvent the wheel but fundamentally understands the genre. You Have Got to Be Kidding Me is a love letter to the genre, while still reflecting a distinct voice.
The opening track, “Solid Ground,” has a retro introduction, almost replicating a tape rewinding. It punctuates the vocal delivery, with its casual, easy style. The track is a relatively tame sound compared to other rock records this year, but there is a power in having the music stripped back to its essentials. There is an understanding of what is needed in the song, which makes it easy to listen to. While not an explosive opening, there is a definite tone set for the rest of the album.
“Gr8 Timing!” is much more of an early 2000s sound with its synthesizer and buzzing guitar chords; one cannot help but latch onto its hooks. The guitar riff is infectious. It punctuates the song in such a way, lingering beyond the album itself. Not only is it a good song, but it is also an incredibly catchy one at that. Getting what a lot of bedroom pop lacks, fanclubwallet has a danceable quality to it in this track, the way a classic pop song does.
Later in the album, “Trying to Be Nice” is a more somber song, one that touches on insecurities of the desire of being known. In the simplistic lines, there is a power in the artist’s candor. With a timid admission, there is a feeling of self-hatred on top of the lead singer’s attraction to their partner. But perhaps the most interesting is the instrumentals, with the swelling guitar chords. The twinkling keyboard with rougher edges makes the song fit into the traditional sound of dream-pop while still being it’s own.
“That I Won’t Do” is one of the shortest songs lyrically on the album, yet it packs quite a lot in its few lines. Not straying far into obscure metaphor, there is an intimacy in the lyrics that makes it a powerful break-up song, as it does not seem to dwell on excess. The loop of the keyboard and the swirling, ethereal bass makes everything seem to be in a dream-like haze. The lyrics are poignant, punctuating the core of the singer’s identity being altered by this relationship.
The titular track “You Have Got to Be Kidding Me” bookends the album. While there are no grand revelations present throughout the album, there is a faster progression that makes this feel distant from the earlier songs. The use of samples is inspired here, adding to the song’s texture. This creates a layer of depth and dimension not heard in previous recordings. It stamps that there is a look toward nostalgia and traditional sounds of dream-pop and indie rock throughout the album, while still showing that there is potential to be explored. One yearns for more samples in future works, as it truly made the album end in a league of its own.