Fanfarlo – The Sea EP

FanfarloFanfarlo formed in 2006, conjured up by the imagination of Swedish musician Simon Balthazar. The London-based four-piece released a successful debut in 2008 and since then have hopped between record labels, shuffled their line up and thrust another album upon the public. They’ve built up quite a following as a by-product and it’s no surprise: a back catalogue weighty with tracks ticking the “catchy” box and a sound treading the waters between pop, indie-rock and folk have combined to secure Fanfarlo the approval of fans of all three genres. 2013 sees the release of their latest offering; four-track EP The Sea. 

Track one, “A Distance”, abides by a fail-safe formula; heavily laden with brazen hooks, sing-a-long-able lyrics, pop melodies and stark British accents, it sounds like Beirut meets The Vaccines. However, there is something lacking. It’s far from disappointing, but Fanfarlo's newly-acquired affection for synth might leave a well-acquainted listener yearning for the organ, trumpets and grandiosity of earlier material.

Alluring, nostalgic and screaming of wishful-thinking, title track "The Sea" sweeps these uncertainties away. It begins quietly, building to an insistent, triumphant climax of jangling piano and suggestions of recklessness like, “We could always run away”. Balthazar’s voice is seductive, drawling, low: softened by the femininity of Cathy Lucas whose vocals simultaneously sore and echo. “The Wilderness” is busy with whirling synth and similarly young-sounding.

Again a contrast, closing track “Witchitaito” is a cover of a Native American song by John Pepper, and it’s bizarre without context. It’s nonsensical, childish and magical, almost; the kind of thing that somersaults around your head and involuntarily rolls out of your mouth, prompting strange looks from surrounding people who have no idea what “witchitaito” means.

The Sea is pleasant but not particularly adventurous: it wanders a little further down the path made by debut Reservoir and made more defined by sophomore, Rooms Filled with Light, taking a detour with “Witchitaito”. Whilst it might not blow songs like “The Walls are Coming Down” out of the water, the title track in particular captures the charm and catchiness characteristic of Fanfarlo at their best.

Release: 14th October 2013, Atlanic

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