Fenech-Soler are a 4-piece from Kings Cliffe formed in 2008. They create club and festival anthems with an experimental edge.
Fenech-Soler's self produced debut album takes the band's radio-friendly nous to unexpected places. "Battlefields" begins the album with a blast, launching with a heavenly chorus of voices, before shooting into stratospheres of glistening synths and dirty brass. "Lies" rises slowly from the deep, a tale of lust and paranoia that becomes a glittery explosion of foot-stomping melancholy. "Golden Sun" plays with rhythms that summon up the sultriness of desert heat; "The Great Unknown" takes a distant echo of French house in new, dizzying directions. And "Stop And Stare" is their club and festival anthem ready and waiting, full of twitchy, urgent riffs, and hands-in-the-air vitality.
While imagination in art is essential for standing out in any marketplace, for better or worse, pleasure can still be derived from the derivative, enjoyment extracted from the expected. Fenech-Soler’s unique selling point seems to be that they, quite brazenly, make no effort to establish one whatsoever, this album comprised of pinched synths and nicked riffs from a slew of similarly styled bands before them. By ensuring déjà-vu strikes with disturbing regularity, their eponymous debut achieves a level of addictiveness – from track to track, what band is this four-piece going to ape next?
If you find that some of this familiarity stems from the vocals, it could be because singer Ben Duffy performed on Groove Armada’s excellent single of earlier this year, Paper Romance. The music is a hodge-podge of elements heard previously in the work of Klaxons, Friendly Fires (their album covers are similar, too), Cut Copy and many more. It’s as original as a tabloid kiss-and-tell story, and variety across these ten tracks consists of slightly different pitches of bleep bubbling under rudimentary percussion and lyrics that take a dose of MGMT cod-mysticism, swig a bottle of cough medicine and spew the resulting stew over the biggest disco ball this side of a Michael Bay wrap party. It’s not that the words that cluster in easy choruses are clichéd; more that they offer nothing of insight, nothing of soul, and subsequently don’t elevate the perfunctory sounds around them.
But assessed as what it ultimately is, a collection that shamelessly bites its peers with no discernable regard for kudos, chasing commercial victories over any back-slappings in the press, one has to respect this album’s focus and determination. Not once does its consistency drop, any track quite capable of being sliced from its long-player position and rocketed into the top 40. Stop and Stare, Lies, Golden Sun, Contender and Demons are tailor-made for modern radio, shiny of surface and hollow of heart, aural Easter eggs to be gorged upon without fear of calorie overload. Bop along in the car, pick up the record from the supermarket, job’s a good ‘un.
If the band can live with their (surely) calculated first crack at album writing, then so should any critics with knives sharpened. As while Fenech-Soler are clearly content to tick established boxes in their pursuit of an audience, their execution is so flawlessly studied that any singular traits would surely spoil the results.
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window