Fast Romantics (photo submitted)

Political uncertainty infuses music by Fast Romantics

Former Calgary band performs next week in Red Deer

They didn’t live through the ’60s, ’70s, or even much of the ’80s, but a palpable current of nostalgia runs through music by the Fast Romantics.

With clips of Fred Astaire and Martin Luther King in the band’s music videos, it’s clear the musicians — who perform Wednesday night at the International Beer Haus in Red Deer — hear it too.

Frontman Matthew Angus said he’s like a lot of young people who “look back on stuff we missed out on because we’re not happy with what’s going on today.”

Angus was only 2 years old when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. Seeing the transformative event unfold on television “was my first clear memory,” he recalled.

With the Cold War over, “it seemed like it was a great world to be part of” — for a couple decades, anyway, said the former Calgarian. Then the last U.S. election happened and global tensions flared, leaving many people shaken.

“It was like, why are we going back there? All of a sudden, the darkness seemed to be around us again.”

While Angus doesn’t directly name U.S. President Donald Trump as a threat, it hovers in his lyrics.

American Love, the band’s soon-to-be-released album, started out as a collection of love songs but became infused with political uncertainty. “The songs ended up being paintings of what it felt like to fall in love while the rest of the world went mad,” stated Angus, the group’s singer/songwriter and guitarist.

“Now I’m not even sure how to describe it. Is it a collection of love songs about politics? Or is it a collection of political songs about love?”

The video for the first single, This is Why We Fight, features clips of the Second World War and American Civil Rights Movement. Although the lyrics are only obliquely political, YouTube comments suggest some individuals are still offended by the song’s sentiments, said Angus.

“They think we’re trying to be divisive, when we’re just trying to start a conversation…”

Fast Romantics began in Calgary and continued after the founding members moved to Toronto. The six-member group has survived several extensive lineup changes, and its pop music has evolved into a heady mix of live instrumentation and synthesizers.

Last year, the band won the 2016 SOCAN Songwriting Prize for Julia, voted best song by emerging artists.

Angus said he can’t define success, beyond now being “borderline”-able to make a living at his music. But he feels a “glow around what we’re doing now. There’s a buzz about our shows. More people are talking about and understanding what we’re doing.”

The musicians are looking forward to playing again in Red Deer.

For more information about the show, please contact the venue.

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