Release Date: Feb 11, 2014
Record label: Blue Horizon Ventures
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Review Summary: From celestial synths to majestic brass, gorgeous melodies are everywhere.Whether it be due to the growing patience that comes with maturity, or easier access to music, it feels like a decade since I have been genuinely excited for a new release. “I’ll listen to it in a couple of weeks” could be plastered on one of my QuickButton keys, such has been my indifference towards listening to an album as soon as it hits the digital shelves. And while the marketing hyperbole of press releases has long since been dispatched to the “Ignore” portion of my mind, I couldn’t help but feel some kind of positive anticipatory sensation when reading the promo for Fanfarlo’s third LP ‘Let’s Go Extinct’.
Garnishing an album title with syntactically-improper references to extinction signifies one of two probabilities. It will either knowingly refer to the band in question throwing off the shackles of their past as they venture onto pastures new, or it will evolve into a rather ironic premonition regarding said band’s long-term future (or lack of). But before we consign Fanfarlo – baroque-pop peripherals whose 2009 debut Reservoir was an inspired work - to the same fate that befell the dinosaurs, there’s the small matter of their third record.
These grand baroque Brits have been ducking Arcade Fire comparisons since their genesis. With their previous album, they managed to leapfrog their Canadian analogues by being the first to put out a surprise synth-and dance-leaning record. 2012's Rooms Filled with Light caught many listeners off-guard, and even scared off a handful. With Let's Go Extinct, they've thumbed the reset button and delivered a record closer in tone to their promising debut album.
Fanfarlo's first two albums took two very separate routes, from the lush alt-folk of their 2009 debut to the '80s-synth-orientated direction that engulfed 2012's Rooms Filled with Light, and on their third record, Let's Get Extinct, they manage to combine the two. Their bold approach to songwriting isn't suppressed here as they voyage into the depths of human evolution and effortlessly combine this theme with expansive pop melodies. While the band's interpretation of the concept album appears to be a dense philosophical commentary, the approach here is far more whimsical and light-hearted -- aided by the impeccable arrangement of songs like "We're the Future," which builds perfectly on the combination of sounds found on their previous two efforts.
Fanfarlo’s third album, they claim, is an exploration of “human evolution and possible futures”. Big themes, and a big sound: all 10 songs here feel in danger of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of instruments thrown at them. Luckily, the Londoners boast an elegant lightness of touch. There are saxophones, clopping coconut shells, notes of Talking Heads’ urbane funk.
It’s a brave band indeed that names their third album Let’s Go Extinct, a portentous title suggestive of something akin to a career suicide. In the context of Fanfarlo’s career, the title may possibly be a premonition after two albums that were critically well regarded yet still haven’t seen them quite break through into the public consciousness. Alas, the title isn’t some sort of career reflection but rather something of a conceptual record looking at the world and humanity’s place within it.
"There is gold beneath the ashes," sings Simon Balthazar on 'The Beginning and the End', the penultimate track on Fanfarlo's excellent if flawed third album. "We have mouths to feed and Utopia to reach." These are fine, optimistic sentiments on an album that is generally thoughtful, uplifting and musically engaging, packed with deceptively complex, melodic songs that stimulate the mind and the senses alike. Yet, as indicated by its title, it's a record that also seems sadly on the verge of giving up entirely.
Fanfarlo have been hovering on the peripherals since the release of their first album in 2009, with their sweeping, instrument-laden melodic pop springing up on US TV shows galore. Now back with their third album, Let’s Go Extinct aims to put the band back on the map, getting back in touch with their original folky pop sound, sprinkled with ambient musings on the big questions. The album opens with a “Life in the Sky”, a track that blends the quiet intrigue of hushed boy/girl vocals on the verse with horn augmented instrumental breaks and what seems to be a sound desk of electronic, space-inspired effects.
Major Lazer, Apocalypse Soon EP Diplo's Major Lazer project lends itself to the EP format. Its spastic, booty-shaking, dancehall-tinged music is best in brief doses, and it usually struggles when it is tasked to maintain momentum and attention for thirty-plus minutes. I'm disappointed, then, that Apocalypse Soon struggles to keeps things interesting over its modest seventeen minute run.