Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fanfarlo, Reservoir

Fanfarlo Records

Reservoir is the first LP to come from London-based folk pop band Fanfarlo. Released under the band's own label, it completes the picture sketched by a preceding bevy of singles. Produced by Peter Katis (The National, Interpol), and with ringing endorsements from David Bowie, Sigur Ros and Rough Trade Shops, this record demands attention.

Balthazar's soulful intonations provide the emotional center of the record. On the rousing and triumphant Ghosts it recalls the ecstatic wailing of 'Clap Your Hands' frontman Alec Onunsworth. The production is a densely layered, kitchen sink affair, lending another gear of compulsion to the sound. Third track, Luna, drives along like a full force gale, and is saturated with everything from violin to synthesiser parts, and much more besides. On the surface, this an all-round beautiful and absorbing listen.

That said, while the vocal is melancholic and possessing of a certain whimsical abondon, becomes easy to ignore the longer you hear it. Balthazar's open, almost dispassionate singing style is partly to blame. The disappointment ensuing from a closer inspection of the lyrics explains why it has been recessed snugly into the weave of the mix.

While fans of Arcade Fire and Beirut should initially enjoy this album, the discerning devotee will think twice. If you'll forgive the word-play, barring a few stand-out tracks (numbers one, two and three), Fanfarlo's Revervoir seems to draw from waters less deep than their better-loved musical progenitors.
Aaron Kennedy

Score: 6/10
Download: Ghost, Luna
For fans of: Arcade Fire, Beirut, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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