On their debut album, Cambridge’s own Furvis does not surprise, but often delights. These kids played together for seven-plus years before being featured at this November’s CMJ Boston Music Showcase, and they have used that time to hone their craft; Carpé Carpet (The Soft Explosion) does not sound like the first LP from four guys just over the drinking age. Instead of experimenting in all different directions, Furvis has mostly stayed true and refined their indie sound well, but when they swerve into the alt-blues arena, the band and the album suffer.
Carpé Carpet is strongest in its first half, where it sticks to indie-pop & indie-rock. These guys know just how to use their guitars, not only the sound they create, but how they use that sound. Emulating Pavement or Wilco, Furvis varies their guitar rhythms in each song, to make the tunes feel more a journey than a riff. At their finest, such as on the single-worthy "Take Me Back," or the following "Julius" and "All Now," the guitars, rhythm, melodies and vocals match up into personal-yet-catchy songs that really gets a hold on the listener.
Unfortunately, "All Now" is also where Furvis begins to explore a more alt-blues character, which delivers diminishing results. The two tracks that follow are good-but-not-great, and the later, "Act Your Age," is the first song on the album to display of some of the unoriginality that plagues most of the latter half of the record. Except for the fun alt-country "Soldier Blue," the second half of Carpé Carpet is a collection of unremarkable, too-long, alt-blues downbeats. There are also times when they over-vary their guitar rhythms, such as in the should-have-been-great "What A Thrill." And Michael Ian Cummings’ vocals, which had felt so melodic and private earlier on the record, veer on the whiney when they don’t have the strong guitar rhythm and tones to back them up.
Furvis is a band that could actually do with less experimentation. When they stick to their indie guitars, they craft the kind of intimate rock that can never be played out. But when they swing over into real alt-blues, they create some dragging road music that doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere (and getting there ain’t half the fun). Carpé Carpet (The Soft Explosion) has some real gems and could point to a bright future, if Furvis goes a little less "Carpé" and a little more "Explosion."