Step Into Light

Fastball

33 1/3, 2017

http://www.fastballtheband.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/30/2017

If you were anywhere within earshot of a radio or television in the late '90s, then you are most certainly familiar with Fastball's breakthrough tune “The Way.” The hit helped the Austin, Texas trio's sophomore album All The Pain That Money Can Buy sell a million copies and turned the band into household names overnight. Now, this wasn't an uncommon occurrence in the '90s, but unlike many of their peers during the time, Fastball stayed together despite declining record sales and grew stronger in their songwriting prowess even amidst the lack of continued mainstream attention.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Step Into Light, their sixth album, has the trio reaching a career highlight. Chief songwriters Tony Scalzo and Miles Zuniga trade vocals and songwriting duties, churning out fantastic and dynamic pop rock meets power pop. An ideal opener, “We're On Our Way” is a great garage rocker with a quick tempo that reminds us of mid-period Goo Goo Dolls or Nada Surf with some quirky synths. But it doesn't take long before gentler, more introspective selections like “Behind The Sun” illustrate diversity. Though these calmer moments represent a soothing aspect akin to their 1998 single “Out Of My Head.” The band sounds wiser and more at ease; this is further evident in other slow tunes like “Step Into Light,” which is heavy on both acoustic guitars and thoughtfulness.

Other album highlights include the breezy Americana strumming of “I Will Never Let You Down,” which is on par with Wilco's early days, the quick-paced garage rock of “Secret Agent Love,” and the darker “Lilian Gish,” where haunting moments are met with pianos and an unexpected but welcomed grittiness.

Apparently some younger well-known pop stars have recently made Fastball familiar to an entirely new audience by covering their work. Let's hope those new ears pick up this album, because it's a great testament to how timeless carefully crafted rock 'n' roll is. And if you're like me and previously thought that Fastball had already done their best work, you have been sorely mistaken. These guys are only flourishing with age.

Rating: A-

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