Fanfarlo’s 2009 debut album Reservoir was quite a bombastic and enthralling indie pop record that earned them comparisons to early Arcade Fire. The melodies were big and often incorporated violin and horns into their vast soundscape. Singer Simon Balthazar can quite easily channel Zach Condon of Beirut on any given song, so it’s no wonder there were a few mentions of that band as well when making reference points. But no band wants to be pigeonholed, and bearing the status as a second-rate Arcade Fire or Beirut can be a little frustrating. Of course there are worse bands to be compared to. Still, Fanfarlo were conscious of this when putting together their sophmore effort, Rooms Filled With Light. They’ve expanded their sound and instrumental arsenal to work in more synths and samples, among other things. The results are still very indie pop-inspired, but with a heavier 80’s touch. It’s not so impactful you’ll think the band has gone new wave, but a few tracks might bring to mind some great Talking Heads moments. Have a listen to tracks like “Lenslife” and “Feathers” to see if you can hear some of that bleeding through. What’s utterly fascinating about the whole record is that in spite of its broadened influences and instruments, there’s nothing on it that feels retro or dated. The band’s ability to make older elements sound new again goes a long way towards proving they’re more than just a flash in the pan. Still, that pan has so much flash in it, as almost every song on Rooms Filled With Light is extremely well structured to maximize enjoyability and memorability. The band has already technically released 3 singles (or at least 3 music videos) for “Replicate”, “Deconstruction” and “Shiny Things”. Don’t be surprised if additional videos emerge for “Tunguska”, “Tightrope” and “Dig”, as they’re worthy of that sort of attention as well. Delightful as it all is, there are moments like on their debut where the band goes a little too cutesy or twee. They tread into the waters of Noah and the Whale, who are by no means a bad band, just a slightly misguided one. When you’re always looking to that next chorus repetition to hammer that hook home sometimes you forget that the road off the beaten path can sometimes be even more rewarding. For all the satisfaction that comes from broadening your influences, it means less if you play it safe anyways. Fanfarlo have made one of the more addictive records so far in 2012, but it satisfies with all the grace of a summer movie blockbuster. It’s big, loud, brash and will send a little thrill up your spine, just don’t expect to hear it talked about during awards season.
Fanfarlo – Shiny Things (Yeasayer Remix)