Fanfarlo are a band whose poignant and majestic melodies have seen them sitting on the cusp of major accolade since the release of their debut single, Talking Backwards, in 2006. For whatever reason the whisperings of greatness that have since enveloped the band have yet proved to materialise.
2009, however, sees Fanfarlo’s biggest chance yet to broadcast their enchanting folk pop to a wider audience as they finally unleash their debut album, and take significant strides forward towards the sort of widespread recognition that is undoubtedly deserved.
Those unfamiliar with Fanfarlo’s rich instrumentation and intelligent arrangement will find a useful starting point with a studious glance towards the five-piece’s list of influences, which includes Broken Social Scene, Pavement, and Neutral Milk Hotel. Other reference points unveiled by initial listens to Reservoir are (inevitably) Arcade Fire and the little-known Strange Death Of Liberal England.
But that by no means is the whole story. To cast Reservoir as a mere by-product of over-zealous depredations from musical influences would be to do Fanfarlo, and Reservoir, a sizeable disservice. It’s an annoying musical clich� that is becoming increasingly prominent in today’s culture for every new band to be unique – but truly, Fanfarlo’s sound is their own. Of course it is – who else’s would it be?
It does sound a bit silly. But the intelligent way in which Fanfarlo structure their songs, and the unique and subtle appreciation of melody that the band collectively command is distinctive and inspiring. Carefully sculpting songs on a refreshingly diverse collection of instruments from clarinet to sax; violin to glockenspiel; guitar to saw, Fanfarlo boast an enchanting and heartwarming approach to songcraft.
The album opens with the brutal rhythm of I’m A Pilot, which sounds like a demonic medieval paean to the dissevering of a crook’s head. The harrowing ambience is quickly dispatched by enchanting keys and tumbling bass as Simon Balthazar’s effortless vocal floats lazily aloft – always catching the middle ground between heartfelt and playful.
To focus on any other individual songs is a fruitless exercise. Reservoir is an album, more than a mere collection of songs. However each song reaches its ultimate goal, it never ceases to get there, and that goal is to thrill its listener with beautifully crafted and stoically unpretentious vignettes of beguiling folk pop.
The production is noteworthy, and comes courtesy of Peter Katis (The National/Interpol). Such richly textured songs are no doubt reliant on good production to create the luscious and shimmering tones that comprise Reservoir, and Katis has no doubt bolstered the album.
But while the production is significant, Reservoir would be nothing without its songs, which are evocative and poignant but ever-mindful of a pop edge that ensures an enduring accessibility. Reservoir is a neat, considered, and polished piece of work that is unrelenting in its charm.