I’d like to introduce you to Durham’s (UK) answer to Auckland’s (NZ) The Beths: Fortitude Valley! Their self-titled debut provides the ear candy that can only be the result of hitting the sweet spot between indie pop, powerpop and pop punk.
Fortitude Valley is fronted by Laura Kovic, who you may know as the keyboardist of Tigercat. She found her bandmates through the much missed Fortuna Pop! label. Those bandmates? Bassist Greg Ullyart from Night Flowers, Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums) and Daniel Ellis (lead guitar). Ellis also plays in Martha, which is probably my favorite UK pop punk band of the past decade. I love how several of the chord progressions and guitar fills on the record are reminiscent of that band, most notably on the sweet album opener Baby, I’m Afraid.
While decidedly pop-oriented, the music of Fortitude Valley is quite the departure from Kovic’s previous output. “In the past I’ve usually written more gentle melodic pop songs,” she explains in the press release, “but I’ve tried to move away from that slightly on this album and experiment with adding more deliberate bite to my songwriting. Nathan, Daniel and Greg definitely helped to make it more punk.”
The record is timely as well, touching on themes like the passage of time, friendships and relationships growing apart, and feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety—as well as searching for love and salvation—, and maintaining to sound joyful and fun throughout. Having two kittens from rescued street cats at home, I can particularly relate to All Haill The Great Destroyer, “a tribute to Margie the rescue cat who destroys everything for fun and is an absolute legend.”
So yeah, what I’m trying to say is that I completely fell for the ear candy of Fortitude Valley. Disclaimer: SO MANY HITS!