I am a Grinch during the holiday season, no doubt about it. Decorative trees that take time to prepare, AND time to disassemble; figuring out what hot game your cousin (twice removed?) is into that season, and to that end, on what console; negotiating which family to visit during the time you’re allotted off from work. Scrooged quotes dance inside my head, because mocking your icons just is a ROFL waffle away in our digital world. Adulthood made me this way. At a certain age, you no longer sit down and write wish lists. Instead, you stand idly by while the elders pick out what sweater they think you will wear more than once.
Sure, this season of peace is more than the presents, but the kind of generosity you sense from a gift your close relative sought with genuine effort cannot be duplicated by a passive gift card to Red Lobster. My inner child was dying, until today.
I Fight Dragons is electro-pop for game geeks, a band laced with Nintendo-esque MIDI and ’00s ultra-positivity that does not pretend to be anything hip for irony’s sake. The Cool Is Just A Number EP gave everyone an intellectual snippet of what to expect, and it felt full, it felt complete; the Welcome To The Breakdown EP does this and more, extending I Fight Dragons’ grip to a cheerfully frivolous ’80s cover song (“The Power Of Love”), a techno-instrumental interlude (“Proxima Centauri”), a lean toward Owl City mixed with All-American Rejects (“Just Decide”) that doesn’t come across cheap, and a slower song that makes The Fray sound dated without aiming for Death Cab highbrow (“Not I”). Breakdown does not feel as brainy as Number, but the gooey parts add a slick bonus for a band like this.
The glorious thing about I Fight Dragons is not strictly in the music, but the overall packaging; You can imagine compiling all of the band’s current output into a nifty LP for the gaming chick in your family, picture her rocking out to it all while you kick one anothers’ asses at Super Mario Kart. At times, the ham of songs like “She’s Got Sorcery” may shine through, but when I Fight Dragons is closing their second EP on a track that references D&D and Star Wars in a single sitting, you can’t help but go, “Dude! I found a geeky love song!” (Weezer’s “(If You’re Wondering…)” got that response from me, me being he who rocks the Slayer shirt).
As I am sure CoS Art Director Cap Blackard will tell you, gaming and obscure electro-tinged music can encompass you, make it less a hobby and more a lifestyle that really stays with you. Being the all-consuming metal-head over here, some of the charm provided in bands like I Fight Dragons would typically be lost on me. This is not because I’m too cynical to enjoy it, but because so seldom do I find good, wholesome pop music that uses what would be misconstrued as a gimmick by the ill-informed in a sincere way. I Fight Dragons is the electro-pop you need, and the only real downside on Welcome To The Breakdown is this: It occasionally sounds a little too much like bands that have virtually no staying power. And if you’re intent on purchasing this EP, you had best be prepared to buy its predecessor to boot.
You will need all 14 songs. It is that fucking infectious. At the bare minimum, songs like “No Kontrol” and the I Fight Dragons version of Huey Lewis & The News’ Back To The Future soundtrack inclusion makes me smile. Also, on a side note, I want an NES for Christmas. Any mall Santas paying attention?