FIZZ is a new indie supergroup composed of dodie, Orla Gartland, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown. Their debut album, The Secret To Life, was released on October 27th, 2023. Despite the autumn release date, the album feels more like a hot, dreamlike summer. My knowledge of modern supergroups comes from boygenius, and my knowledge of FIZZ members comes from 2014 tumblr. Neither of these prepared me for the start of The Secret To Life.
Spotify’s description calls them unpredictable. This is reflected in the vast difference between the first half of the album and the second, a transition from maximalist pop that falls somewhere between the Beatles and Paramore, to a slower, more heart wrenching collection which utilises second person, seeming to speak to the listener directly. Despite this, the album is still cohesive, with recurring themes and lyrics tying seperate songs together. Each track fades into the next, giving the impression that it is meant to be listened to as one piece of art.
The album starts with A New Phase Awaits You :-) a spoken word track, voiced by Gartland, acting as an advertisement for the album. It promises its audience impossibly good effects from listening to the album ‘for six monthly instalments of just 49.99’. This satirical take on marketing brings both the band’s humour and anti-capitalism to light, while the emoticon at the end of the song title leans into the fun and nostalgic vibe of the album. This latter emotion is enhanced by tracks like Rocket League, a homage to a video game with an orchestral background reminiscent of albums like A Night At The Opera by Queen. The Secret To Life seems to be giving its members permission to feel what they are really feeling, without shame, from simplistic happiness to the heartbreak expressed on I Just Died.
The lead single, High In Brighton, is the only song I had heard before sitting down to write this, and it represents the album well. For legal reasons, the band has commented that ‘high’ refers to paragliding on the beach, but either way, the chorus lends itself to the psychedelic and fanciful atmosphere, as well introducing the idea of rebelling against society through fun rather than anger. The song also features all four artists’ vocals, which solidifies the album as a collaboration, rather than just a collection.
The record contains ballards, too. Close One, You, Me, Lonely and Lights Out all express something both distressing and profound, voicing universal unspoken human emotions. They introduce something bittersweet to the narrative, that the secret to life cannot all be fun and dramatic, sometimes it is just that you’ve ‘dodged another bullet’. Yet, even on the most melancholy tracks, the band is so cohesive that they never seem truly alone.
Both the joy and the insanity present on this album may come, in part, from the fact that dodie, Greta Isaac and Martin Luke Brown all live together, with Orla Gartland living close by. They had also all worked on projects together before, as co-writers or just background vocals. Their closeness is evident in the intimacy of the songs, and I can imagine that living and working together also allowed for the frustration and crazed aspects which appear in certain songs. The record pushes indie pop to its limits, bordering on nonsensical, but remaining fun.
Speaking to NME, Brown said that he “Thinks people will hate it as well. It is what it is, and it’s so boldly what it is.” Contradicting the first track, he seems to not care whether people buy into their music, suggesting they made it for the sake of making art only. This impression is heightened by the final track, The Grand Finale, an eclectic song with musical theatre influences which show the listener just how much the band enjoyed making it.
Ultimately, the album is so many different things that it is hard to summarise – you have to go listen for yourself. And if you like it, and you’re in Bristol, they’re playing SWX on the 27th of February. See you there!