Album Reviews

Fyfe Dangerfield – Fly Yellow Moon

(Polydor) UK release date: 18 January 2009

Fyfe Dangerfield - Fly Yellow Moon As well as having one of the coolest monikers in pop music, Fyfe Dangerfield is also an incredibly busy man. As well as two wonderful, but underrated albums with Guillemots and playing in a jazz band called Gannets, Dangerfield has also found time to record his first solo album.

Happily, this doesn’t mean that Guillemots are no more (they’re apparently recording their third album at the moment). Instead, Fly Yellow Moon is a collection of understated pop songs that were deemed a bit too conventional for Dangerfield’s day job – there’s certainly no 13 minute Brazilian sambas on here.

Having said that, the music on Fly Yellow Moon isn’t too dissimilar to that of Guillemots; all the same elements are here: big, bright pop songs sit side by side with some more introspective folky ballads. You just won’t hear typewriters or dustbin lids being used as additional instrumentation, that’s all.

Opening track When You Walk In The Room makes for the perfect introduction – exploding out of the speakers with such joie de vivre, it puts quite the spring in your step. Powered along by piano and drums, and the odd ear-splitting Dangerfield scream, it’s a marvellously uplifting song, celebrating the redemptive power of love. With lyrics like “I want you endlessly”, it may not be particularly original, but Dangerfield puts so much passion into the vocal that you can’t help but be swept along.

The single She Needs Me treads similar turf, but in an even more epic manner – all stirring strings, windswept piano and blissfully romantic lyrics. It’s the perfect soundtrack to blow away the cold winter blues.

Elsewhere, although the mood is still as eclectic as fans might expect from Dangerfield, the emphasis is on acoustic-style ballads. So Brand New wouldn’t sound out of place on a Richard Hawley album, while Barricades starts off as a dead ringer for Leonard Cohen‘s Hallelujah and continues in almost as stately a fashion.

There’s almost a lo-fi, demo version to much of the album. Livewire is a truly affecting little number, simply Dangerfield on an acoustic guitar softly crooning lyrics like “you’d like to say you’re wasted, but it’s not the alcohol that’s making you feel like a flat spare wheel”. When an almost unnatural piano tinkles in the background, it’s enough to break the hardest of hearts.

Faster Than The Setting Sun is a swirling, swooping masterpiece that more than nods to the glory days of McAlmont & Butler – unsurprisingly perhaps, given that it’s one of two tracks that Bernard Butler himself has mixed. It’s probably the closest that the album comes to Guillemots’ sound, bearing a slight resemblance to Annie Let’s Not Wait.

The entire album was recorded in just five days flat. It may have been knocked off in a spare moment between Guillemots albums, but in Fly Yellow Moon Fyfe Dangerfield has made a very early contender for one of the best albums of 2010.

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More on Fyfe Dangerfield
Fyfe Dangerfield: “I’ve stockpiled so much music over the last decade” – Q&A and This Music Made Me
Fyfe Dangerfield @ Academy, Oxford
Fyfe Dangerfield: “There’s a real feeling of contentedness, a sense of hope” – Interview
Fyfe Dangerfield – Fly Yellow Moon