Record review: Giant Fang – ‘Aqualung’


What is immediately apparent on first listen to, ‘Aqualung’ the first single from Giant Fang’s forthcoming debut album, Kingdom, is that Douglas Wilson, 26-year old Glasgow-based musician and producer knows exactly how to conjure the sound of a modern pop record.

The production on ‘Aqualung’ is aimed squarely at the internal organs of pop-radio.

A product of Chem 19 studios and producer Jamie Savage, this is a very slick recording.

The sonic aesthetics of this piece have all the hallmarks of a Radio One smash but the burning question is: within the depths of that lush digital landscape (or more appropriately, seascape) does there lie a pop song?

In short, yes there does, I suppose whether or not this becomes a smash is up to the record buying public but my bet is rather cynical in its nature – the industry as we know it now tucked firmly in to it’s death bed.

The record opens with a long atmospheric introduction: washing cymbals, cascading synth sounds and smooth guitar lines.

Interestingly, drums were provided by Nestor Matthews of Leeds based indie rockers Sky Larkin, though it may as well have been a drum machine.

The drums aren’t particularly interesting in their metronomic execution or sound, though to be fair they serve their purpose well and provide a succinct rhythmic foundation to the track.

We wait a long time for him to arrive, but for the remainder of the track the focus of your attention is firmly on the voice of Douglas Wilson and righty so.

Often I feel that producers turned songwriters treat lyrics as an afterthought in the creative process but his voice and lyrical content not only place the grand atmospherics of the musical backing in context -bolstering the track’s overall impact – but provide the track’s strong point.

Despite the cheery bell-like synth-sounds underpinning the vocals and the visual reference of faded lush green trees in the artwork for the record: with numerous mentions of clouds, high rises, city skylines and my personal favourite line, “Lights alive in the tide, I dive below the skyline” you can easily place myself in a rather dark mood, staring down at the dancing orange reflections of light on the Clyde before turning back towards the brooding city skyline.

The record invokes such vivid (and in my case location-specific) imagery in a listener with relative ease.

In conclusion, I don’t really think the hooks in this track are strong, obvious or numerous enough for this to be an aforementioned smash.

However, this is a fairly realised grand vision from a talented young producer that shows definite promise that given time it is perfectly feasible that Giant Fang will hit upon that rarest of truly euphoric choruses that songwriters do elude to and, in coupling that with a tightly focused, dynamic musical backdrop Mr. Douglas Wilson will be well on his way to radio play heaven.

Words: Chris McCrory


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