The evolution of Fortunes vocalist Conor McCabe has been a miraculous thing to witness. Since reconnecting with his producer and Hamilton Boys High School friend Barnaby Matthews three years ago in Melbourne, Conor has headed straight to the beating heart of the hedonism of late night partying, and the brutal comedown of the morning after – delivering on the promise suggested by the regular live jazz, disco soul, and folk music performances he made while living in Wellington in the early 2010s. Although those familiar with him from then will remember his cheeky and inviting grin, and idiosyncratic singing voice, in the time since, to mix music and Dragonball Z metaphors, he’s gone Super Saiyan.
Nowhere is this transformation more present right now, than in the audio and visual treatment for ‘Focus,’ the latest single off Fortunes’ Future Classic released EP Undress. Supported by a laidback electronic beat equal parts sleek synth minimalism and low-slung post g-funk maximalism, Conor twists his New Zealand accent into a series of sexed-up RnB melodies and lovelorn inward-looking lyrics. Set against emotionally weighty footage of Conor looking all alone and emo at the beach, it’s a striking combination thanks to NZ on Air.
‘Focus’ is a powerfully focused proposition, and an important reminder of why Fortunes are one of the most exciting new acts of their generation currently operating between New Zealand and Australia. And as anyone who has attended one of their live shows recently will know, if Fortunes can put it down as a recording, they can deliver it with the same captivating intensity live. Better yet, Conor and Barnaby know where the best after-parties are, and they might just be persuaded to take a new friend.