Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Neo-Psychedelia
Samuel F Scott of the Phoenix Foundation has described their fifth album as "Test-match music", and he's notwrong: Fandango changes mood and style seamlessly, like a five-day cricket match moving through its phases, so the songs – no matter that they vary from the gorgeously pastoral (Modern Rock), through shiny, 80s-styled pop (The Captain) to wistful psychedelia (Inside Me Dead) – are all serving the team. Though it doesn't sound a lot like Pink Floyd, it shares the quality of that group's early 70s records: it is leisurely, taking its time to reflect rather than rushing to a conclusion. The melodies, though, mean it never shrinks into the background.
Fandango, the lofty, fifth long-player from Kiwi space rockers the Phoenix Foundation, clocks in at 78 minutes, which considering the Wellington sextet's penchant for cosmic extrapolation, is relatively tame. The group's slow ascension from regional to international psych-pop prognosticators mirrors their distinctive sonic world-building, which falls somewhere in between Meddle-era Pink Floyd, the Church, and atmosphere-heavy Brit-pop outfits like Keane and Elbow. Fandango's most absorbing moments occur when the band is at its most focused, and though the majority of tracks hover around the five-minute mark, full-on flights of fancy are refreshingly rare.
By the sounds of it, The Phoenix Foundation have been heavily packing the bong during the making of fifth album ‘Fandango’. The Kiwis just about keep their eye on the ball with another set of all-killer no-filler songs that sees their psych-flecked indie pop rolled into 75 minutes of madness. Only 17-minute finale ‘Friendly Society’ wears thin, its ideas forced and spread too thinly across clunky sub-sections.
New Zealand sextet The Phoenix Foundation are old hands, their catalogue of five full-length releases stretching as far back as 2003’s Horsepower. In the intervening years they’ve garnered no little critical acclaim in their native land – and with 2011’s Buffalo achieving particular success in British best-of lists, they’re a band increasingly subjected to international recognition as well. Double album Fandango lands 10 years after its original ancestor, and sees Samuel Flynn Scott, Luke Buda, Conrad Wedde, Tom Callwood, Chris O’Connor and Will Rickets tasked with maintaining their recent successes.
Balance, boys, balance. That is what you want to tell the guys in the Phoenix Foundation in response to Fandango, their fifth album. The Phoenix Foundation’s previous album, Buffalo, was one of the best indie rock releases of 2011. But its often whimsical, easygoing, pastoral tone was also slammed by some reviewers as being shallow or, worse, boring.
The Phoenix Foundation didn't make many waves outside their native New Zealand until their 2011 album, Buffalo, arrived on the scene. But rather than stick with its appealing poppy formula, they've taken a more prog-y route for fifth record Fandango, which wasn't the best idea. Clocking in at 78 minutes, Fandango is a lot to take in, especially upon first listen.
Fandango is The Phoenix Foundation’s longest record to date and, in theory, should be their most progressive. After all, how else can you justify a dozen songs that average six minutes apiece? Well, for starters, the final track throws off the average by being 17 minutes alone. But let’s be clear about one thing: that a song is longer than, say, six minutes doesn’t mean it’s progressive, or even necessarily a progression.
New Zealand sextet The Phoenix Foundation are a band entirely unafraid of experimentalism and taking themselves on far-flung sonic voyages, and fifth record ’Fandango’ sees them exploring every single facet of their wide and varied sound on an ultra ambitious and daring double album. It sees them capitalise on the success of 2011’s ‘Buffalo’, the first of their records to see a European release; it seems that its success has emboldened them to stretch themselves even more.‘Fandango’ is something of a throwback; it’s a record steeped in classicism that perfectly fits the concept of the rock double album. It lovingly plays with psych rock and AOR early 70s pop giving it a lovely lustrous sound.