RIYL: Cage the Elephant, Band of Skulls, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, The Black Keys
Some artists start their careers off slowly, gradually making a name for themselves over time. Others make a run for the elusive spotlight, exiting the metaphorical stables like American Pharoah at the Kentucky Derby. Still others come at you like a lightning bolt and punch you right between the eyes. Agelast just punched us right between the eyes.
Pronounced like “agile-list” or “a-jealous-t,” Agelast hail from Nashville, Tennessee. An independent duo consisting of Devin Hill and J Daxton Fann (you’ve likely never heard of them), Agelast made their music debut this week with the long-anticipated release of their first single and its accompanying music video, “Fever.” A heavy-hitting pop song dressed in rock garb
and a forward-driving rock song disguised as a pop hit, “Fever” offers something for both sides of the “genre divide”: A roaring, singable chorus, a dance/head bob-friendly beat, a synth bass below an overdriven guitar. One might go so far as to say that “Fever” was manufactured to our liking.
Listen: “Fever” – Agelast
But “Fever” isn’t the product of a Max Martin/Cheiron Studios-esque assembly line; it’s the golden calf lovechild of a to-date unknown group crafting music they like while trying to make an honest name for themselves. Why whine about the detriments of pop-styled music when one can also bask in the ingenuity of fresh and promising talent?
Light fever on a summer day
She blew into the room and we just melted away
They might say I felt my temperature rise
When I took too close a look
Into her ray gun eyes
Dripping with sexual desire and thirsty with raw emotion, “Fever” holds listeners in suspense with an infectious, electric aura. Lead singer Devin Hill sings of a blossoming love affair with the song’s opening lyrics, “Light fever on a summer day / She blew into the room and we just melted away.” The theme has been written a hundred times and the words are not brand new (although “ray gun eyes” might be a first), but that does not detract from the lyrics’ tantalizing nature.
I saw a flash and realized
I couldn’t take anymore
I had to walk up to her
She could not be ignored
The dance is tired – the lyrics played out – but the situation is nevertheless true for all: How many of us have had to resist the urge to approach someone out of the blue? How many of us have ever acted – appropriately – on that physical attraction? It’s bold – easy to be taken the wrong way – but it’s also a real feeling that can be easily related to.
So I sat by you, do you wanna take a chance
Something’s burning deep inside me and I just have to ask
Oh girl, before I turn into ash
I got to break you just to beg you
Can I have this dance?
The pre-chorus’ innocent, yet heated lyrics are reminiscent of any number of early Beatles songs. Agelast’s lyrics are essentially the twenty-first century version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand“: Oh yeah I’ll tell you something / I think you’ll understand / When I say that something / I wanna hold your hand. Modesty – the “courteous” runaround” – is thrown to the four winds in lieu of the direct approach. In this moment, there is nothing more important to Agelast than getting the hallowed “yes.” Temptation flows freely from “Fever” – temptation fueled by desire, masked only barely such that listeners can easily pick up on Agelast’s intentions.
Tension in Agelast’s music and lyrics build to an orgasmic climax in the chorus. Hill and Fann release themselves from any restraints, going for the jugular with an ultimate proposition:
Sister I could be your Fever
Fever in your heart beat
Beating like a hammer
Hammering away and
The way you move beside me
Beside me like a Fever
Fever like a fire
Fire like a fever
Is there anything hotter than a fever?
The “Fever” music video plays to the song’s seductive graces, pushing sexuality to the forefront of our minds with a loosely-structured “plot” centered around Nashville actress/model/artist Alex Van Zeelandt. The video’s zenith comes with a naked Zeelandt basking around in a motel bathtub full of milk and Froot Loops.
You can’t find more eye candy on a Kanye West album cover. Given the lack of movement or palpable subject matter within the song’s music video, it’s safe to assume that “Fever’s” visual accompaniment serves primarily as an eye-catching excuse to play out those evocative descriptions of lust and desire in as provocative a means as possible. Is Zeelandt dehumanized by the video, reduced to merely a physical sex symbol? Yes and no – she serves her role as the song’s subject well. The music video is more clickbait than it is art – it’s aggressively sexual, and slightly misogynistic – but for a debut song and video, “Fever” is wildly impressive and immeasurably memorable. It may not be the greatest first impression, but it’s also a wildly unforgettable first impression.
One may feel an odd jumble of emotions in the mixing of breakfast with sex. Breakfast is not an inherently sexual meal – in fact, it may be the least sexual meal of all – but Fruit Loops in a bathtub with a sexy, naked lady? One may never look at cereal the same way again.
The ultimate argument for “Fever” is that it is the debut for a no-name band. Had Agelast done something like this when they were more established, the effect would not be so drastic and the song would not bear the same weight. But this is the band’s first release – a band with no prior music and absolutely no following, who started dropping hints for the song long before it came out.
So anxious for "Fever" to be released featuring @thisisryanross as co-producer/writer.
We're going to break the Internet.
— Agelast (@AgelastMusic) November 5, 2015
Agelast’s audacity and the blatantly sexual nature of the “Fever” music video speaks to the dauntingly high wall faced by all independent, and even major label artists! Recent music videos from Selena Gomez and Rihanna show how artists across the spectrum will take advantage of sexuality, using it as a weapon to fight for our attention.
To Agelast’s credit, “Fever” breaks through the noise. It takes a lot for an indie artist to “shake things up” in the music world, but “Fever” has the potential to break out of the barrier due to its creative hyper-sexual imagery and its powerfully catchy music. In fact, “Fever” did succeed, in a way: Without a premiere, Agelast managed to garner over 16,000 views in its first day. Not bad for a band with less than 300 likes on Facebook! There’s no doubt that Agelast’s debut is “upworthy.” They are most certainly a 2016 artist to watch: Exceptional music and eye-grabbing imagery make Agelast’s “Fever” a debut for the ages. We’re transfixed; Agelast have punched us right between the eyes, and there’s no turning back.
I got to break you just to beg you, can I have this dance?
With as explosive an entrance as “Fever,” Agelast set the bar higher than most bands. Is this to be their nature, or is “Fever” a one-off? Only time will tell; for now, listeners can revel in the heat and pop/rock excellence that is Agelast’s “Fever” while contemplating the sexual qualities of breakfast.
Watch: “Fever” by Agelast