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This London-based five-piece are fronted by Swedish singer Simon Balthazar, whose presence dominates this rather samey and overwrought debut. With a mannered, slurred singing voice pitched somewhere between David Byrne and Brendan Flowers of The Killers, he is both what makes Fanfarlo most distinctive and also the thing that is most likely to wind you up.
Because of the way he sings, the lyrics seem incidental, if not entirely instrumental. For that reason, it's probably best not to trouble yourself with the possible subtexts of the likes of The Walls Are Coming Down: ''For atoms have gone as far as atoms will go/ Your books write themselves, they line up in row after row.''
Me neither. Anyway, this collection of songs seems to tell us little about the world apart from what the band like, or think is currently trendy - or was when the tunes were written. That means the kind of semi-acoustic indie folk popularised by the likes of Fleet Foxes (but without anything more than a hint of their vocal harmonies, or compelling musical narratives). That said, Fanfarlo more often sound more like Noah and the Whale with a musical saw and half an orchestra in tow.
There's also something of the empty crescendos of Arcade Fire, with the same kitchen-sink tendency to all play their instruments all the time - chiefly trumpet, violin, bass, guitar, drums and vocals. So it's a relief when they don't, as on the quiet, closing instrumental Good Morning Midnight, which could have been much longer and provides the relief that at least Simon says!nothing.
You may end up wondering why it was they offered the album up as a $1 download before 4 July, or what kind of 'musical differences' prompted guitarist Mark West to leave the band before they even got an album out. But the fact that they subsequently went on tour with Snow Patrol does offer a clue. --Jon Lusk
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top Customer Reviews
(played here by one Cathy Lucas) is bound to
capture my full attention. There are many other
good reasons why Fanfarlo's debut album 'Reservoir'
should find a place in the listening world.
Founded around three years ago by multi-instrumentalist/
composer Simon Balthazar, his ensemble is creating some
highly intriguing and distinctive music.
The eleven tracks in this fine collection are strong
on melody and lyrical finesse. The arrangements are
richly textured and cleverly conceived.
Comparisons have been made with Arcade Fire and I am
able to see why this might be so but we must not let
this set our minds against them. There is more than
enough room on the planet for another talented bunch
of minstrels capable of delivering exciting and
uplifting material of this quality.
'Fire Escape' is very nearly a pop song with mainstream
potential. A jolly tune which romps happily along
without a care in the world. The nonchalant whistling
(a tragically neglected skill) at its close is a simple
and inspired addition.
'The Walls Are Coming Down' is chock-full of spirited
mandolin, trumpet and violin interventions set within
a powerful melodic and rhythmic framework. Amos Memon's
raucous drums and splashing cymbals are a delight.
'If It Is Growing' is a haunting little composition.
Mr Balthazar has collected a few critical comments
with regard to his vocal abilities. I rather like his voice.
It has a laconic but emotionally affecting quality which
suits the somewhat melancholy nature of the music.Read more ›
I want to say it's a grower but that's not the truth. When you first hear the album you'll think it sounds quite samey and maybe only remember one or two of the songs. For me it was Pilot which, after first hearing I just wanted to play again and again. After playing the album several times you realise that you know and love every song, the beautiful melodies sticking deep into your soul.
I already have this album, I bought it as a download on Itunes a while ago but now seeing it as a proper album I'm gonna buy it again, and not just for me.
My personal favourite is "Comets". The ideal 2010 spring record (although the record was released in 2009).
If we were to be honest the list of 'truly' original, ground-breaking albums is not an extensive one. I'm quite happy listening to much that is derivative. At the moment, I'm listening a lot to the Rural Alberta Advantage who positively reek of Jeff Mangum and Neutral Milk Hotel. And nobody interested in decent music over the last couple of years would have failed to notice Fleet Foxes, Midlake or Bon Iver and whether you thought them brilliant or not (some I liked some I didn't) it would be an understatement to say that their musical styles were not wholly original. Currently wowing me are the wonderful First Aid Kit and any hint of 'the new' is entirely missing from their album.
So what's the problem? Ask yourself this. From which well does the essence of 'Reservoir' spring from? It's pretty obvious that the band have spent many hours listening to 'Gulag Orkestar', 'Funeral', 'Clap Your Hands Say Yeah' and 'In the Aeroplane over the Sea'. "So what..." you might say? Well the problem for me is this. My feeling is that the creators of those works wrote and played with little regard for whether what they were doing was 'in' or not. Their works to me feel honest, unironic and sincere.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this album on the way out from seeing them support Mumford and Sons at Wolverhampton, the gig was great and I have played the cd continuously since then, I really like it.Published on 14 Mar. 2010 by Bigsle
A friend of mine put me onto by sending me a link to "Luna", saying that I'd probably like this. I was intrigued enough to go out and get the album on the strength of that. Read morePublished on 23 Jan. 2010 by pjr
Reservoir is simply genial. Since Arcade's Fire masterpiece "Funeral", that i didn't had the pleasure to listen to such fabulous album. Every track could be a hit single. Read morePublished on 23 Dec. 2009 by Joao Nuno Pinto
I listened to this album several times but i can safely say it didn't fascinate or excite me in the slightest. Read morePublished on 23 Oct. 2009 by Mr. S. Bennett
My Half-baked Review:
I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing for Fanfarlo, I'd go with good as I love them, but it is 100% unescapable not to mention Arcade Fire, so... Read more