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Fanfarlo – Reservoir [Raffle Bat]

July 16, 2009

The first wind I ever caught of Fanfarlo was through watching their Black Cab Sessions video of ‘We Live By The Lake’. See, I always like it when they get more instruments into those backseats than just your standard acoustic guitar, so I knew I was onto a winner when I spotted the violin in the thumbnail. And it comes as no surprise that their debut album, it turns out, is just as violin-friendly.

It’s not quite the Phil Collin’s tease-you-and-then-please-you formula but opening track ‘It’s A Pilot’ drums it’s way into a glorious anthemic pop song complete with crashing cymbals. The aforementioned violinage soothes the blow but it’s the fabric softener effect of frontman Simon Balthazar’s vocals that makes the song truly come out all cushy and smelling of roses.

And then there’s the trumpet. Ah sweet horns, you are the extra cheese in an already juicy burger. I recently came across some wall-scribblings in the girl’s toilets of a recent unrelated gig I went to.  Why so many ladies are carrying permanent marker pens around with them I’m never too sure but that’s beside the point. Amongst the dubious wisdoms and Myspace addresses for bands we should be making note of apparently, there was the message: ‘Tonight Fanfarlo stole my heart’. And listening to Reservoir, I could see that happening.

I’ve yet to see Fanfarlo live, but imagining their set, saturating the audience with soaring layers of luscious instruments, for them to then whip out the cheeky trumpet on say ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’, well that’s just unfair. If that toilet wall-decorating lady wants her heart back, then I’d say her best bet was to look down the bell of that resounding piece of brass.

The blood-pumping organ thief also comes out to play on ‘Ghosts’, an instant show stealer with a blunt but magical bassline. My only qualm with this album is a tendency to apply the same strategy throughout; constant crescendos and the subsequent breakdown can make Reservoir seem overwhelmingly rushy. But some people make whole nights out of feeling rushy and this way won’t leave you so sweaty and dehydrated.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded Magazine]

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