Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fanfarlo- Rooms Filled With Light is worth getting dressed up for.

Fanfarlo's second album "Rooms Filled With Light" reveals a more polished and sparkly sound as produced by Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Gnarls Barkley) and engineered by David Wrench (Bat For Lashes, Everything Everything, Beth Orton) at Bryn Derwen Recording Studio in North Wales. For those of us who love a more organic sounding Fanfarlo, the result may be a mixed blessing and, I was, at first taken aback by some of the controlled chaos I was hearing but then I always do gravitate to songs and artists that gleefully display their rough edges. And while those rough human edges feel a bit smoothed by such a lush sound on this record, the songs do drop you into some amazingly rich musical landscapes.   

Replicate with the sticatto strings and dramatic touches feels busy and flows like a Twyla Tharp modern dance. Deconstruction rocks like an 80's teen movie ala Modern English. Lens Life is funky and feels art rockish with growing organs that swell until a wall of sound takes over, only to diminish again. The chorus is pretty fuckin fantastic, the drum sound harkins back to the 60's when only 2 or 3 mics would do and the overall production sounds more fully live than tracked. Shiny Things with it's spacy vocoderish synth sound and dancy beat is pure electronica pop in the Future Islands vein. Tanguska, one of the true gems on Rooms Filled With Light, has a 50's sock hoppish sway with a glam ballad like feel. It is a dreamy slow dance of a song. Simon Balthazar's voice feels a bit more stripped down and bare on this track making it all the more lush.

Other highlights. Bones and Dig which apart from the spacy psychedelic touches feels like a more organic Fanfarlo and A Flood, which is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It is a simple and elegant folkish ballad (wrapped in a dream pop blanket). Sections of it actually reminded me of the earnest classic folk sound of Jackson Browne, the Band or the Byrds.

In Rooms Filled With Light, Fanfarlo walk a bit of a tightrope in between the more organic folk / indie / post punk they are known for and a more sophisticated dream pop / electronica / "dolled up" organic folk / indie / post punk. In the end, their earnest indie folk / pop songs (at heart) paint evocative artscapes that are more broad and multicolored, more mature in a sense. Their heart and soul is not lost at all, just dressed up a bit.

Sharky McWilliams

Fanfarlo Official Site

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