February 2017

Tantrums in Action

Fitz and the Tantrums’ music has changed a lot over the years, and here’s proof.

In our February cover story on Fitz and the Tantrums, we talk a lot about the band’s stylistic evolution from album to album. The following videos demonstrate this well. Our first selection is a 2010 Seattle performance of “MoneyGrabber” off the Tantrums’ debut album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces. James King’s baritone saxophone and Jeremy Ruzumna’s piano root the song in a sound that’s reminiscent of mid-1960s Motown acts like the Temptations and the Supremes.

Now we move on to 2013. F&TT are in an Austin broadcast studio, playing “Out of My League” from their second album, More Than Just a Dream. We seem to have moved from the ’60s to the ’80s, as the piano has been joined by the sounds of synthesizers and synthetic handclaps (as well as real ones), while the sax playing has acquired a harder edge.

Finally, here’s a 2016 clip of the band onstage in L.A. The song is “Roll Up,” from their third album, Fitz and the Tantrums. The synths are even more prominent, while the sax takes on a background role, more texture than melody. Again, we’ve jumped ahead a couple of decades in style. References to the sounds of the ’60s and ’80s are no longer so obvious. Call it modern pop.

At least two things haven’t changed over time for Fitz and the Tantrums: the vocal harmonies of Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, which are as central to the music now as they were seven years ago, and the band’s ability to write songs that are instantly catchy.

Are there other similarities and differences you notice when watching these videos? And if so, what are they?