Huge, great, bleak towers of sound. Nimble, rhythmic undercurrents. The unlikely ghosts of both post-punk and techno. The cold, wintry qualities of Fufanu‘s new album, Sports, have drawn critical acclaim across the spectrum, but nobody has quite yet focused on how funny Kaktus Einarsson, Gulli Einarsson (no relation), and Elli Bang are. Today’s “Liability” video, premiered on their home country’s leading English-language newspaper, Reykjavik Grapevine, will change that. Running with the Sports theme, Fufanu gently mocks the world of competitive athletics with outfit changes and 2-D animation galore. Those who have had the distinct pleasure of seeing Fufanu live might know that, even at the band’s most serious, they roll a faint glimmer of tongue-and-cheek flash into their art; “Liability” is perhaps the first time this quality has come to light in a quickly shareable form. Watch HERE
Nobody sounds like Fufanu, but 18 months on from their hugely acclaimed 2015 debut, Few More Days To Go, the Icelandic trio’s eagerly-anticipated second album, Sports, sees the band return with a palpable sense of urgency and a fresh spin on its dark, new-wave-esque, electronic-driven post-punk. Produced in Iceland by Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, agitated, brooding singles “Bad Rockets” and title track “Sports” droppedin 2016 to a fantastic critical reception, as did “Liability” last month.
For 2017, Fufanu are changing—“growing up”—as multi-instrumentalist and lead guitarist Guðlaugur (“Gulli”) Einarsson calls it. Sports employs driving grooves, stand-out pop melodies—occasionally reminiscent of Krautrock legends Neu!—and sophisticated arrangements. The follow-up album reflects their experiences during a hurricane two years, in which they rocketed from making a big splash at the 2014 Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik, to touring the UK with The Vaccines, to playing with Fufanu fan Damon Albarn at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall, and even supporting the Blur singer’s legendary group at a huge event at London’s Hyde Park.
Officially, the Fufanu story begins in 2008, when Kaktus met Gulli in school, and, glancing at his schoolmate’s iTunes, noticed that they listened to a lot of the same techno and electronica. However, in a way, the Fufanu story begins in the early 1980s, before Kaktus and Gulli were even born, when Kaktus’s father Einar (who sang alongside Björk in legendary band The Sugarcubes) started bringing English post-punk records back to Iceland from London, and then inviting the likes of The Fall and Crass to play in Reykjavik.
Although Kaktus and Gulli heard these records a lot when they were children, the influence is more unconscious than conscious. Their big early influence was techno, and in the same week that they met at school, they entered a studio and started to make electronic music. Although their first band, Captain Fufanu, was an instrumental techno outfit, Kaktus had started writing lyrics during a stint in London, where he worked on Damon Albarn’s Everyday Robotsalbum. While he was away, Gulli had been creating a new soundscape, which Kaktus says “really conveyed what I was thinking.” In came organic instruments to add to the electronics, and Kaktus discovered that he had a stark, imposing voice that suited the songs perfectly. Fufanu’s inimitable sound was born.
“When we added live instruments, that took us to Few More Days To Go,” considers Kaktus. “In a way, Sports is taking us back to techno and out again, squaring the circle, with more sophistication. It sounds stupid, but it’s music for people who really like music.”