Chennai-based quartet, the F16s, completed ten years of creating and performing music together this month. The group, comprising Sashank Manohar, Joshua Fernandez, Harshan Radhakrishnan and Abhinav Krishnaswamy, have become representative of the indie wonder-band in the country, ever since their album, Kaleidoscope, took the internet by storm.
Whether you’re looking at getting to know them, are already well acquainted or are a loyalist, there’s no better way to celebrate their impressive milestone than with a deep dive into their best tracks over the years.
You can look back to the second track from their 2-track EP, Nobody’s Gonna Wait, and instantly transport yourself to an entirely different the F16s era. Deliberate, groovy, well-written and intricately produced, this track was released back in 2015, and served as the perfect door to the sound that they forged with the 2016 full-length studio album, Triggerpunkte.
‘Blackboard’ marks an era in the F16s discography that is disruptive, edgy and intense, and for those very reasons, possibly the most complex and interesting.
The closer to their first full-length release, Kaleidoscope, ‘Nuke’, is a witty, intelligently crafted track that leans heavily into indie rock, without compromising on the foot-tapping groove. It’s angsty, exciting, and engaging. Vocals and guitar take centre stage on this one.
‘Nuke’ begins and ends with an irresistibly groovy riff—a precursor to a wildly successful indie music career, it would seem.
Peppered throughout the F16s discography, are elements of disco-pop and retro nostalgia—a gripping factor in the listening experience. But no song personifies the value of this sound as much as ‘Caddilak’ (from Triggerpunkte). Complex in its layers, the track delivers a full-course meal in its four-and-a half minute run time.
It kicks off with a delicious bass-hook, accompanied by a taut rhythm section, before taking a sharp turn into a darker, alt-techno sound, only to arrive at good ol’ indie-pop. Once incorporated, no element falls off the track, making it one of their most intricate productions.
Mellow, sway-worthy, and evocative, ‘Luna Zep’ is a great example of all the feeling the group is capable of. The writing is imaginative, while the vocals are haunting. Slower than the typical F16s song, ‘Luna Zep’ demands the listener’s attention; as if being swept into a more fantastical, story-verse.
You Could Use Me as a Weapon
And, just like that, ‘You Could Use Me as a Weapon’, arrives as the perfect successor in this list. As evocative and heart-breaking as ever, this track, also from Triggerpunkte is one of the group’s best written tracks, set to a captivating arrangement.
The build-up in this track may be predictable, but it does what it’s supposed to—keeps you hooked.
Throwing it back to the early days of the F16s career, ‘Avalanche’ makes for a worthy listen. While saturated and somewhat un-enunciated vocals have become their thing in the recent few years, ‘Avalanche’ is one of their most clear, and hard-hitting early tracks.
Once again, this nothing like their now-signature sound, and leans to indie-rock roots.
Summer in my Lungs
‘Summer in my Lungs’ off Triggerpunkte is one of the lighter, airier tracks on the album, intentionally or unintentionally forming the perfect bridge to their newer releases. With sound reminiscent of WKND FRNDS, it captures a feeling in a bottle, near perfectly. And, that’s saying something because as listeners, we can’t ever be certain what exactly that feeling was supposed to be in the first place.
It’s fun, it’s groovy, and it’s indie-pop at its best.
My Baby’s Beak
‘My Baby’s Beak’ off their 2019 EP, WKND FRNDS, is a worthy effort in production and arrangement. Surely, the six years of experience since their debut counts for something. And, ‘My Baby’s Beak’ is the perfect manifestation of that very fact.
Not to mention, this single, along with all the other three tracks on WKND FRNDS, marks the beginning of the current F16s sound—indie pop that is, undoubtedly, concert friendly.
Trouble in Paradise
Moving into their most recent era, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ off Is It Time to Eat the Rich Yet? is sunshine in a track. While the album was a pandemic-inspired statement piece, a simple listen of the tracks would never give it away. Groovy and up-tempo, ‘Trouble in Paradise’ combines reggae with sparkly pop and quirky, harmonic vocals, to serve up a gooey, sticky and warm song.
You could always read into it, if you’re in the mood. But this song will, first and foremost, put a smile on your face.
‘The Apocalypse’ closes this list and the album Is It Time to Eat the Rich Yet? Lyrically, this track is a motivational, existential anthem. Sonically, it is a Beatles-esque, F16s take on the surreal times we live. As cheery and warm as its predecessors, this track will have you saying, “If this is what an apocalypse sounds like, take me there.”
10 years strong, the F16s show no signs of stopping. And, why should they?
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