BLASTOFF "We're trying to foster this experience of really letting go of your inhibitions and just finding this freedom and being able to just dance it all out," says Reptar's Andrew McFarland.
Oblangle Fizz Y'all could refer to one of any number of things: the battle cry of a Martian zombie army, a brand of aardvark repellent only sold in a hardware store in Delaware, or the sound a robot makes when gargling. Ask Reptar's Andrew McFarland about the meaning of the phrase, which serves as the title of his band's 2011 EP (off Make Records Not Bombs), and you'll receive an explanation that's disappointingly straightforward. "Really, nothing, which is kind of the point," the drummer says during a phone call from North Carolina. "It really is exactly what it sounds like: this totally made-up phonetic phrase."
Both the wordage of and sounds on Oblangle Fizz Y'all are perfect introductions to Reptar's world — a place where an indulgent, ultra-vibrant sense of youthfulness runs wild. The rising Athens, Georgia, band share their name with the lime green Godzilla-style beastie from '90s Nickelodeon cartoon Rugrats, two of their releases sport titles that sound like creations of an imaginative eight-year-old (Oblangle and their forthcoming LP, Body Faucet), and if a genre called "playground-pop" existed, they'd be its torchbearers.
"I don't necessarily think that we're trying to put youthfulness on a threshold, I think it's more [about] the attitude and energy of youthfulness," McFarland says. "Just the fact that there's so much in the world that's so incomprehensible is a really amazing idea that I like to add into songs. We don't really do too, too much of what I would consider to be experimental, but most of the songs that maybe would fall into that category definitely come from that same idea of every different aspect of youthfulness: the confusion, and then this very joyous feel. It's very rambunctious, it's loud, super energetic, and probably smells weird."
In order to understand how that adolescent vibe translates to sound, examine Oblangle's "Context Clues." The song includes, at various points, the ringing of an alarm clock, a bird's dulcet call, a keyboard line that's the sonic representation of a rainforest coated in morning dew, vocalist Graham Ulicny bending and exaggerating his words in peculiar patterns, and a misty-eyed brass portion that could be the ceremonial music used on The Flintstones by the Grand Poobah club if they ever decided to disband. On paper, "Context Clues" reads like an overeager mess, but in execution, it's five minutes of well-plotted, rainbow-flavored magic that could legitimately be used to entertain kindergarteners.
Reptar's kitchen-sink wonderland takes most of its inspiration from '70s African pop artists like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé. (Keyboardist William Kennedy is the band's resident Afropop aficionado.) McFarland describes his elemental drum beat as a boom-chak-chak-boom-chak-chak kind of thing. "It's basically my job within this band to keep the beat pretty heavy — really solid," he says. "By that, I mean that we try and cultivate a real dancey vibe with almost all of our songs, whether it's real head-noddy or you're jumping up and down, and going crazy."