Rooms Filled With Light CD
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The follow-up to Fanfarlo's 2009 critically acclaimed debut album Reservoir was recorded by Ben H Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective) during a six week session at Bryn Derwen, a studio located in a remote former slate quarry in Wales. "Rooms Filled With Light was a phrase I found in an old notebook," says Fanfarlo's singer and songwriter Simon Balthazar, "To me it summed something up, creation, not creation of the world, but what we do as people. It seems like creating rooms and filling them with light is a very modern, fundamental human activity, creating little worlds. It resonates with the whole experience of making art or music."
Goodness knows whether there's still an appetite for bombastic baroque-rock – even Arcade Fire softened into something more pop on The Suburbs – but Fanfarlo are willing to wave it under our noses one more time. A dangerous three years after their not-bad debut Reservoir, the London-anchored (but Swede-led) band have barely changed their formula, fighting for the big crescendo in every bar and striving for something mysterious and romantic in every key change. Crucially though, this time, everything's one louder. And the songs are stronger.
What this means is any residual folkiness has been shed as Fanfarlo take the Noah and the Whale route to radio ubiquity. Yes, there's some muted violin on Dig, a stroked harp on Tightrope, but by and large Rooms Filled With Light hits the big fantastical rock accelerator, packing tracks with synths, mounting strings and celestial brass. It's Disney enough to give you toothrot, but the sugar highs are offset by the odd sour low.
And the highs are dizzying. Lenslife is the repeat player, all big brass and euphoria with a chorus that's unexpected every time you hear it – it sounds like Eno and Byrne have parachuted into The Maccabees. But it's nearly matched by Tightrope, which is a bit of an indie skiffle all told, only with drunken Beirut horns and discordant piano giving it some welcome weirdness. By its end, it's hurtling towards Dexys-patented amphetamine soul.
Shiny Things does intriguing things too, coming on like dour-period OMD covering Bee Gees' You Win Again before pummelling away into another of those brassy finishes. There's little doubt Fanfarlo want to be big – that's Big Music rather than Coldplay-massive, although the cash probably won't hurt – but they have their limitations. Singer Simon Balthazar is from the 80s indie school of mannered vocals, always a barrier to leaping out of your speakers, and Fanfarlo can't shake that lingering temptation to skip off into twee. Still, one man's limitations are another fellow's charms, and Rooms Filled With Light never dips beneath beguiling. Most of the time it's really quite grand.
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Top Customer Reviews
since their 2009 debut 'Reservoir', have come up with a cracking second showing
with 'Rooms Filled With Light'. There is a sense of purpose and drama in these
twelve tracks which deserves to win them new fans if given the exposure it deserves.
Mr Balthazar knows how to spin a good tune and has the kind of voice (a very good
one) which quickly gets under your skin and stays there pulsing away well after
the last echoes of the recording fade away into the night and well on into the
following morning. The arrangements are clear and crisp and lucid and make good
use of strings and brass to augment the confident organic structure of the whole.
Take a composition like 'Tunguska' : old-fashioned in a wholly reassuring way, it
delivers a simple sixties-flavoured melody and nails it to the mast with conviction
and a total absence of irony. It's a wonderfully soppy and well-rounded invention.
So too opening gambit 'Replicate' which heightens our anticipation with its pulsing
violins and chirpy fairground organ decorations; when the chorus finally unfolds
we are swept away by the beguiling owlish vocal accents and Mr Balthazar's well-
focused central performance. The single 'Deconstruction' romps along like a happy
puppy chasing leaves in the wind and 'Tightrope' shows off the rhythm section
(terrific bass playing here!) and the band's capacity for ribald vocal harmonies
to fine effect. 'Bones' is about as good as a good song gets; a resounding anthem
which packs real emotional clout and the melancholy 'A Flood' which comes a close second
as top track. The tiny coda 'Everything Resolves' brings the project to a magical chiming close.
I loved every minute of it and was left wanting more. Fanfarlo are a very fine band indeed.
If you loved the debut, I'd strongly suggest a stream of this first, it's barely worth the space on your cd shelf. Nice artwork tho.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great band, great album .Catchy tunes and superb for listening to over and over again without getting bored.Recommended.If you haven't heard of them you're missing out.Published on 19 July 2013 by Powderace