Release Date: Apr 7, 2017
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
It was always going to be a tough ask to live up to the high standards set in 2015, but there are no such concerns here; this is now their third studio release, and typically another great example of their talents' without having that extra twinkle we were spoiled with on Jackrabbit. It isn't necessary to know the narrative attached to the promotion of the album is about Ludwig-Leone's more personal approach this time around, but "No Promises" certainly reads that way once you've been told the demons he was grappling with. The song sets the background for a lyricist and composer concerned by the pressure of being responsible for this set of talented musicians - the rigours of touring and personal sacrifices rely on his direction, as a result he reasons, to a certain extent does their happiness.
The follow-up to 2015's elaborate and often challenging Jackrabbit, Belong finds San Fermin mastermind Ellis Ludwig-Leone delivering a more streamlined set of chamber pop confections that reflects the group's evolution from his post-Yale composition project to a fully operational and battle-tested band. As per usual, the lineup has been tooled with a bit -- they are now an eight-piece -- but brooding baritone Allen Tate and charismatic N.Y.C. singer/songwriter Charlene Kaye remain the band's vocal mainstays -- Kaye took over for touring vocalist Rae Cassidy in 2014.
Across his first two albums as San Fermin, Ellis Ludwig-Leone created a huge, expansive world for his songs to live in, which he then gave to intriguingly polarising mouthpieces. Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye once again tag-team throughout new album ‘Belong’, Ellis' most personal album yet. Tracks concerning the band leader’s anxiety and worries, the first time he’s written in this way, are hidden under the weirdest music he’s ever produced.
The basic conceit behind San Fermin, the Brooklyn chamber-pop ensemble led by songwriter and producer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, has an obvious if not unlimited appeal. Like Sufjan Stevens circa Illinois, they bring classical flourishes to indie and folk conventions, bolstered with soaring choruses and spirited performances. This studied approach lost some of its charm on 2015's bombastically scattershot Jackrabbit--and with over five decades of baroque-pop history, from the Beach Boys to Rostam, they could be drawing from a much deeper well of influences.
Brooklyn outfit San Fermin are back with their most anticipated record yet. 'Belong' is the follow up to 'Jackrabbit', which saw project mastermind Ellis Ludwig-Leone introduce bolder and brighter takes on the fractured chamber pop that shines on the band's self-titled debut. Now, two albums on from when breakout cut 'Sonsick' made comparisons to Dirty Projectors inevitable, these similarities have all but evaporated, with a noticeable swapping of art-rock eccentricities for larger-than-life anthems.