There’s a lot to like about Fanfarlo, even before the opening flutters of their debut album, Reservoi r can even be heard. Fiercely DIY, this London 5-piece has released a string of singles and EPs on independent UK labels over the years before heading into Pete Katis’ (Interpol, The Grates) Tarquin Studios in Connecticut, USA to record the debut long player. Again, thumbing their collective nose at the Majors, they decided to release it themselves. Makes sense, right? In a recent interview, lead singer Simon Balthazar showed no desire for the comforts provided by The Big Four, “We’ve had some offers from labels, the typical five-album deal, and it’s like, why would anyone do that? So you’re going to take all our income from all our records for the next five to ten years?”
Despite the multi-instrumental talents of the group, Reservoir is a simple album. It’s not simple in the sense of catchy three chord pop records, but simple in the way that Fanfarlo have used tempo and dynamics as the thread of commonality throughout their music that has created a gorgeous pop album.
From the drowsy stomping opener, I’m a Pilot, the band’s blissful meanderings soon pick up the pace through the absolutely joyous cuts of Ghosts, Luna and Harold T. Wilkins which showcase their pop sensibilities, using ghostly bowed saws, glittering synths and perfectly complimentary brass sections that parcel with the traditional indie-pop sounds. In more sombre moments, songs like Comets, The Walls Are Coming Down and the simple piano melody of If It Is Growing capture the earnest beauty and honesty in the music while still holding on tight to the song writing polish that is present in the up-tempo numbers.
There are unavoidable comparisons with Fanfarlo to Canada’s Arcade Fire, so much so that I tried desperately to steer clear of it, as not to harp on about a tired journalistic fact, but it really must be said. There’s a simmering energy in Fanfarlo’s work and an ability to launch into rapturous orchestral moments, which mirror AF so much that even a casual listener would be able to recognise. That being said though, there’s an originality and a joy in Fanfarlo’s music that will make you forget the tired comparisons. Reservoir is an album of beautiful pop songs that will stand tall in the 2010 best albums list.