Album Review: Part II: The New December by Fol Chen
Very Good, Based on 5 Critics
AllMusic - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Fol Chen continues to embrace mystery and avoid the obvious on Part II: The New December. As on Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, the enigmatic band makes a virtue out of indirectness, sending songs through secret passages and tunnels that end in hooks some distance from where they were expected. There’s a strong experimental streak in the brainy way Fol Chen takes what seems like a straightforward idea and twists it into something completely different; like the Dirty Projectors, the group flirts with and subverts mainstream pop ideas, and like labelmates Cryptacize, they’ve got a flair for the deceptively simple.
Fol Chen is not just another electro-pop band, nor another electro-pop-cum-noise band. They are an electro-art-pop-noise-lite-whateverhaveyou band with a concept. In a continuation from last year’s debut, Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, their tale of an ongoing battle with Vladimir Nabokov creation John Shade and a language-eating virus, and the subsequent apocalypse, continues to unfold.
For avant-popsters Fol Chen, there's some truth in the old adage about the company you keep. The masked, anonymous California six-piece recently spent some time on the road supporting Liars, even going so far as to help fortify that outfit during their manic set. And any crew that has the freak-out chops to roll with those dudes must have some bizarro tricks of their own.
The eclecticism of pop music has always been its best-suited aspect: a true, tested and long-lasting versatility that will only get better with time. Recently, more and more artists have begun to stretch its boundaries – digging and scratching through the tangled spectrum – and its umbrella is, along with its sister genre, electronic music, extremely far-reaching. And in such eclectic spirits, Fol Chen’s strikingly bold 2009 album, Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, made use of all of those dimensions in the aforementioned spectrum to make a truly innovative album.
Best Coast At first the sentiments seem to be pure pop in Bethany Cosentino’s songs on “Crazy for You” (Mexican Summer) by Best Coast. “I wish he was my boyfriend.” “You’re the one for me.” So are the structures: two- or three-minute songs with a big girl-group beat, a few chords ….