Album Reviews

Fenech-Soler – Fenech-Soler

(B-Unique) UK release date: 27 September 2010

Great things have been touted for Fenech-Soler, despite the fact their name sounds like a lawnmower manufacturer from their native Northamptonshire. Having made some waves in their festival appearances, the band are now stepping forward with their debut album, prior to a mammoth tour of the UK.

The fact they have honed their skills as a live act bears repeating, for this record has a strong ‘live’ element, especially in the way the drums are arranged, with some exciting fills to complement the bouncy rhythms. Along with this is the voice of Ben Duffy, Fenech-Soler’s principal weapon, who is able to elevate songs like Lies to the realms of extreme catchiness through a wonderfully exuberant falsetto.

This is a pumped-up record, made up of equal parts White Island and UK city dancefloor. As a result it is likely to delight those that follow the output of labels like Modular, as well as those searching for a bit of 1980s-influenced power pop on the side. Highly energetic, the tunes would grace the town nightclub, but work equally well for radio consumption.

Lies, one of the best songs here, is the second part of an excellent opening triptych that brims with fizz and intention, with Battlefields and Golden Sun adding their own warmth to proceedings. Influences range across the dance spectrum, with elements of Italo disco and chopped-up French house music, but with a resultant sound that is the band’s own.

Nor are the songs completely predictable, with several unexpected harmonic twists and turns in Battlefields alone. The words are flexible, sometimes directly at odds with the music’s decidedly positive message, with Duffy refreshingly unafraid to pepper the positivity with a few lyrical barbs. Among the punchy, peak time club anthems are a few more introverted moments, with The Great Unknown revealing a tender underbelly, and Stonebridge starting out with soft intimacy before drawing back the curtains to reveal a more honed dance number.

The record is almost over before it’s fully established, scoring extra points for not outstaying its welcome in ten tracks and making sure that, one or two slight examples of filler apart, there is nothing here that sounds extraneous.

So if you need a musical fillip to help you stave off the onset of Autumn, this debut from the Nene valley quartet may just well be the one to do it. All of which begs the question – why couldn’t this have been released for the summer itself? Oh well, we’ll just have to close our eyes and pretend, until the temperature hots up again.

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