dUBLIN fRINGE cLUB
To the uninitiated, 'fringe festival' conjures images of nude theatre troupes and non-narrative plays about the existential trauma of being middle class. So it is a mildly surreal experience to stand at the back of Dublin Fringe's pop-up headquarters watching a room of people waving their hands in the air while an Icelandic man dressed like Napoleon Dynamite extols them to 'jump up and down -- yeaah'. Have you stumbled through a gap in the space time continuum and ended up at last week's Electric Picnic by accident?
Actually, it's all part of the FM Belfast experience. From the wacky fringes of Icelandic electrorock, they favour perky melodies, catchy-to-cloying hooks and a lyrical obsession with having a fantastic time -- and hang the consequences (hardly a surprising sentiment from a country that, like Ireland, has stared into the abyss of insolvency). For those who associate Iceland with the sombre sweep of Sigur Ros or Bjork, it's rather an eye-opener. The last thing FM Belfast make you think of are epic icebergs.
What you won't glean from their music is why they chose to call themselves after the North's largest city. In interviews, frontwoman Loa Hjalmtysdotti has explained the band had never been to Belfast and knew absolutely nothing about it when they picked the name. If anything prompted the choice, she said, it was a distant fascination with Ireland -- raising the terrifying spectre that, had their eyes strayed to another part of the map, they might stand before us today as FM Termonfeckin.
Growing up in the dreary Reykjavik suburbs, they started writing songs as a way of escaping boredom and there's a slightly manic quality to their jaunty dance-pop. Initially the vivacious beats and shouty choruses are energising.
However, the tempo never lets up, so that the bottomless reserves of positivity starts to feel artificial. It is akin to being in the company of someone who falls down laughing at everything you say -- even when you're not trying to be funny. The longer it goes on, the more you find yourself glancing toward the exit.
FM Belfast make a glorious noise but could do with leavening the good vibrations with a dash of ennui every now and then.