Release Date: May 25, 2010
Record label: Geffen
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Fyfe Dangerfield's band Guillemots make adventurous songs that throw in not just the kitchen sink but associated plumbing as well. His fabulous solo debut is the opposite, though. Recorded in just five days in a little studio, two songs are mixed by Bernard Butler, but otherwise the material is barely produced and raw. Dangerfield was in love and wanted to capture his euphoria as nature intended, and far from being schmaltzy, it's hard not to be swept along by his ardour and emotion; because the songwriting quality is so high, the tunes have an immediate, instant feel.
As songwriter and de facto frontman of the deliciously eccentric pop collective Guillemots, Fyfe Dangerfield has already established a sufficient reputation as a versatile and talented musician. His work with his motley crew of contributors has lead to a Mercury Prize nomination (for 2006’s Through the Windowpane) and moderate chart success, but they’ve also become infamous for their clutter of influences and overly adventurous arrangements. Perhaps deemed too conventional for release with Guillemots, Fly Yellow Moon benefits greatly from its uncomplicated scope and stripped-down recording style.
Fyfe Dangerfield fell head over heels in love and decided to make a record. While the sentiment certainly isn’t unique, the Guillemots frontman’s solo debut isn’t content to just park its protagonist beneath his lovers’ window with a ukulele and a dozen roses (for the whole album, anyway). Dangerfield tries to capture the violent impact of Cupid’s arrow through 12 slabs of soulful, schizophrenic indie pop, and the results are as wildly erratic as their subject matter.
Mainly written whilst the Guillemots toured their second album Red, Fly Yellow Moon was intended to be an album of stripped down recordings, mainly acoustic guitar or piano. However, Fyfe Dangerfield frequently just couldn't help himself, leaving us with a mixed bag of an album; it veers between the sort of hushed acoustics keeping with Dangerfield's original vision and the sort of unabashed pop hysterics for which he is renowned. Unfortunately there is a likewise disparity in quality.
Let’s face it, when you are already the frontman of a minorly successful band – in Fyfe’s case, epic pop buskers [a]Guillemots[/a] – there are only two possible reasons for making a solo album. 1) The rest of the band aren’t feeling your new passion for Tuvan throat singing. Or 2) Fuck those losers, you’ve got more chance of being a massive pop star without them.
All you need may be love, but love isn't all you need. Look at Fyfe Dangerfield. As lead singer for Guillemots, his swooping vocals helped lead the London four-piece to a Mercury Prize nomination for 2006's Through the Windowpane, a debut album overflowing with ideas and passion. Romantic grandeur and wide-eyed sincerity were part of Guillemots' early appeal, but that group's stylistic adventurousness and avant-garde impulses are all but gone on Dangerfield's solo debut, Fly Yellow Moon.
An album in love with life, and a document of pulling it into focus. Matthew Horton 2010 Fyfe Dangerfield is so obviously the chief creative force behind his band, Guillemots, you wonder what he plans to achieve with a solo foray. Doesn’t he have enough control already? Yet Fly Yellow Moon shows he’s kept something back for himself. This album doesn’t bristle with the sonic daring of Dangerfield’s usual work; instead, it offers love songs, largely unadorned with stylistic quirks or brash arrangements, a document of a life pulling into focus.