Album Reviews

FM Belfast – Don’t Want To Sleep

(Morr) UK release date: 6 June 2011

There is a strong sense of community and togetherness with FM Belfast. Their official membership may number four, under the auspices of couple Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, but they can grow to the size of a big school class when performing on stage.

Clearly they are getting a taste for making albums, too, as Don’t Want To Sleep, their second, is just over a year after How To Make Friends made us dance manically, smile insanely and sigh deeply, all in equal measure.

While Don’t Want To Sleep picks up where this left off, the band succeed in exploring further afield where musical styles are concerned. Stripes sets the tone for the album, bounding in with an athletic piano and a spring in its step, upfront and with no fear. American builds on this, the vocals up and at you, practically demanding you get on the dancefloor.

Rhythm is not the only weapon at the Icelandic band’s disposal, mind. Their chief appeal lies in the vocal chemistry between Hlöðversson and Hjálmtýsdóttir, who finish each other’s musical sentences, throwing couplets and observations at each other.

Despite its uptempo beginnings, Don’t Want To Sleep is not all sunshine and light. There are some truly weird goings on in Noise, where manic vocals and a restless trumpet line do battle, while closing track Happy Winter reflects more darkly that “this year is making me fear”.

Perhaps the only thing the group lack is that streak of memorability. Well written and executed the songs may be, but the melodies do not stick in the head for as long as they should. The answer, almost certainly, is to go and see them live, as the musical electricity remains strong throughout, as does the feeling that the listener is invited in to belong.

There is, then, lots to admire about FM Belfast, their approach and their punchy, left of centre pop that drags you out of that dark corner on the edge of the dancefloor. A few more big tunes and they will truly have cracked it.

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More on FM Belfast
FM Belfast – Don’t Want To Sleep
FM Belfast @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
FM Belfast – How To Make Friends