When you see Brighton duo Fruity Water live, there’s a huge difference between the two musicians on stage. While Adam Bell is almost floating around the stage, dreamily singing his lyrics, Smalan Odgers, next to him, resembles a mad scientist, hurrying between instruments, creating the backdrop and essentially spawning the zeitgeist that Fruity Water fall under. It’s testament to the talent behind both Bell and Odgers that both equally come to the fore on their debut record, Thirst Takes, and are meshed together in such a way that it simulates both the screwball and the relaxed. Importantly, though, it also creates something that is dizzyingly unique, and something that not many would have heard before. This juxtaposition of ideas is so loose and relaxed, but at the same time taut and unyielding, that it feels like it was always meant to be together.
The essential structure of Fruity Water’s formula is the melding of pop hooks with psych-tinged guitar, and gloriously glossy synth solos with luscious harmonies. The overall sound is one that feels directed, and one of an addictive nature, that comes from duplication of lyrical hymns that subsequently creates an earworm, which swirls around your head, never leaving it. As such, even after listening to it, Thirst Takes never leaves you, in the best way possible.
Opening track, ‘Join the Dots’, is a delightful opening to the album. Dreamy but forthright, it acts as a doorway into the world of Fruity Water. It’s a sweeping, dynamic track that features surrealist and playful imagery such as: “Joining the dots/I do it a lot just for fun” and:
“If you’re a robot, what do you have for lunch?”, as well as monumentally increasing in momentum throughout until its final stretches when it essentially doctors a position for itself as an extended intro to debut single ‘Wasted Summer’s crescendoing awakening. However, this time ‘Wasted Summer’ comes with a deliriously screwball outro of an amalgamation of house and trance. It’s wonderfully weird, and within two songs Fruity Water have not only created a world, but they’ve set a slogan of “anything goes” and it makes Thirst Takes exciting, diverse and an assortment of joy.
Best song on the record, ‘Dance With Me’, the third single from Thirst Takes, takes thing up a few notches. It’s a brazen synth-pop track, with uneven beats that gives a more direct atmosphere. It’s a slightly different sound to their previous dream-like guise, as it takes a slightly more pop-oriented route, too, but with gorgeous synths that recall the 80s. This is swiftly followed up by ‘Fantastic Day’, which continues the speed set by ‘Rules’ and ‘Dance With Me’, on a track that, with its frequent changes of pace and electronic instrumentation, resembles an early New Order single. There’s a lot of the 80s on Thirst Take too, especially later on with ‘Bye Bye Me’s melody sounding especially like an off-cut from Kraftwerk’s Trans–Europe Express.
There’s so much experimentation on Thirst Takes that it’s almost difficult to keep up. From the rave beats of ‘I Control the Sun’, the lackadaisical patterns of ‘Fruity Water’ (on another note, I’m all here for eponymous songs), or the childlike gaze of ‘Dreams’, it’s a minefield of imagination, an exploration across the mind of the duo, and an experimental blast.
“Brighton is a funny town” Adam Bell sings on ‘Dance With Me’, in an ode to their, and our, beloved hometown. Indeed it is, but it’s a much funnier town with both Fruity Water, and Thirst Takes, in it. ‘No Happy Endings’ finishes with a solemn: “I won’t see you again”, but after Thirst Takes we’re all hoping that’s not true. The record is pure pop bonanza, and unadulterated playfulness. It’s a wonderful world of sound that has no right to make a coherent, even listenable album, but not only is it just that: it sounds different, fresh and stimulating.