Cool Is Just A Number (EP)

I Fight Dragons

Private Studios, 2008

REVIEW BY: Mike Cirelli


I Fight Dragons dons superhero tee shirts for photo shoots, list video game systems in their instrumental repertoire, and blend Atari-esque sound effects with power-pop in a relatively new genre called Nintendo rock. Their music evokes the feeling of being inside a video game.

Sounds like a gimmick, right? There’s no way a band that tacks on sound effects seemingly pulled from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Super Mario Bros. 3 can transcend novelty status. This reeks of more schtick than Hey You, Pikachu! or the Nintendo Power Glove of 1989.

But what makes these Chicago scenesters remarkable is not the concept, but the execution of the concept. They completely circumvent novelty and somehow find a way to make NES-rock a more than legitimate genre. This isn’t just a slight recast of Depeche Mode-style electro-punk either; IFD lay the digital decadence on thick, giving it just as much face time as the guitars – which, by themselves, are as chunky and catchy as Micro-Goombas. Brian Mazzaferri’s vocals resemble a less refined Chris Collingwood (of Fountains Of Wayne), and the choruses hang around your head long after the headphones. Even without electronic ornamentation, IFD would make a fine alternative to The Hold Steady.

The songs follow a logical and fluent sequencing, suggesting that IFD are ready for full-length albums. In opener “The Faster The Treadmill,” they mesh 8-bit sound effects quite nicely with a piano, throw in some power-pop guitar chords, and supercharge the chorus. The result is something both innovative and cohesive. The lone ballad on Cool Is Just A Number provides an appropriate ending. Despite its tacky lyrics, the warm and glowing synths and frail acoustic guitar radiates a kind of nerdiness as the music slowly builds like frost inching up a windowpane. Finding the pathos in video game music – pretty good for a couple of guys and a gal who like Nintendo and dress up in superhero shirts.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2009 Mike Cirelli and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Private Studios, and is used for informational purposes only.