Last month saw the release of Starters & Appetizers, the bountiful debut EP from Melbourne pop duo FancyNormal. Colourfully chronicling some of the most relatable pitfalls of our teenage years, Jules and Noni have taken ‘the most romantic musical era ever of ’80s synth pop‘ and softened the awkward moments with a warm sparkling glow that makes it all okay.

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The opening track, Butterflies & SSRIs, creates the vision of an ’80s prom night. The whole track seems to glisten like a flash back scene from a movie, inspiring images of dramatic puffed sleeves, ringlets of curls in a big top pony tail, and glittering blue eyeshadow. Setting the scene for the EP, there are no lyrics per se, just the sound of a lighter flicking and a burning cigarette as background chatter seeps through the elongated synths.

This leads into the pair’s first single, Ultra Passion. Singer Noni is a powerhouse of ’80s pop vocals. There’s a girlish innocence that harks back to some of our favourite pop stars of the decade and boasts the same kind of presence as our very own Kylie Minogue and Tina Arena. Singing about first loves and heartbreaks, FancyNormal manage to keep the sparkle alive in the track as they tackle the challenges of being young and infatuated.

Sober Spaceman, the second single lifted from the EP, builds slowly around sharper drawn out synths and crisp vocals. It’s a cinematic experience. All the little sonic scatterings sound like bugs and fireflies muttering in an electro/techni-colour rainforest, while the saxophone-toned solo creates that extra little throwback to the ’80s.

With cascading electronica, Sad Champage is a more beat-driven track. The bones of it are simple and effective as the reverb on the vocal creates just the right amount of retro. Chanting the line ‘I just need to be alone, but I don’t want to be alone‘, FancyNormal’s signature ability to create sunshine out of conflicting circumstances is just magic.

The final track, Private Wine, is a painfully accurate depiction of the discomfort of youth, and the insecurities that sometimes never go away. From fearing eyes upon your every move to the slight jealously of wondering why other people seem to move through life with so much ease, Jules and Noni have really tackled the difficult journey of self-discovery and the relief of finally ‘finding your dance‘.

Starters & Appetizers is a recollection of growing up and what it was like trying to learn about love and a commentary of understanding yourself in the present. Sometimes the haziness of memory mixed with crisp emotions can create a sweet snapshot of something that was actually toxic. We can romanticise dysfunction but when you cut the BS out, you’re left with the heartbreak


Stream Starters & Appetizers below:

Posted by Rebecca Costanzo