Monday, November 30th, 2009
Good Morning Midnight
Review of Fanfarlo’s Reservoir
MySpaceWhat’s this, a review in almost-December of a record I’ve been talking about since March? Yes folks, welcome to the year-end doldrums where laziness/burnout combines with slow music releases/news for a perfect storm of stagger-to-the-finish-line posts. Hey, at least it’s not a list. Anyways, while I’ve talked about Fanfarlo at length throughout the year, a proper review of Reservoir hasn’t been amongst them. And that’s not right, because as will quite possibly/probably become clear when I do fall back on list-making, it’s been one of my favourite records of this year. Oooh, spoilers!
Reservoir is a record that simultaneously aims sky-high while feeling completely at ease and effortless. To the former point, the most obvious touchstones for the British outfit fronted by Swede ex-pat Simon Balthazar are Arcade Fire and Neutral Milk Hotel with perhaps some Beirut and Belle & Sebastian thrown in for good measure, so even if you’re just trying to be objecticvely descriptive of their sound – a grand and sweeping orchestral pop that’s equal parts wistful and whimsical – you’ve set some unimaginably lofty expectations.
And that’s where the second point comes into play; for all of its widescreen presentation, Reservoir has a distinctly comfortable if not intimate feel that sets it apart from Arcade Fire’s angst or Neutral Milk’s fantasticism. Balthazar’s voice has a warm, inviting timbre that’s perfectly suited to delivering his looping melodies and the band’s deft multi-instrumentalism buoy the compositions with brass, woodwinds, strings, saw and all manner of wonderful noisemaking toys. Fanfarlo write joyous, swelling anthems, but it’s a joy that seems derived from enjoying the simple things in life, like making music, rather than any grand statements about the state of the world. For all their sonic bigness, it’s on that personal level that Fanfarlo really connects.
Reservoir was originally self-released in February of this year, and since then has gone through any number of editions and iterations both in the UK and North America, from simple home-pressed CD through ornately packaged deluxe editions to super-discounted digital editions. It’s official North American release came via Atlantic Records in October and it’s on that major label push that they’re in the midst of an extensive North American tour. They stop in Toronto at the El Mocambo on December 15 and having seen them back in March at SxSW, I can testify that their live show actually eclipses the album for sheer wonderfulness. I imagine this’ll be the last semi-major tour to come through town for 2009 and can’t think of a better way to finish the year off.
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “I’m A Pilot”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Luna”
MP3: Fanfarlo – “Finish Line”
Video: Fanfarlo – “The Walls Are Coming Down”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Harold T Wilkins”
Video: Fanfarlo – “Fire Escape”
Drowned In Sound reports that Mew will release a live album on December 7 entitled Live At The Hollywood Palladium and recorded, curiously enough, at the Palladium in Hollywood, California back in September. They play the Mod Club in Toronto on December 6.
Rumoured for a while, the feature documentary on Blur, covering the years from the band’s origins through their 2009 reunion, is now a reality. No Distance Left To Run will make its theatrical debut on January 19, 2009; the trailer was just unveiled.
Trailer: No Distance Left To Run