I hate to sound whiney, but there’s just too much music to listen to these days. And right when I (arrogantly) think I’ve got a handle on what’s going on in the music world, I realize I don’t even know the half of it. I battle with spending lots of time listening to a few good albums or spending a limited time exploring the endless abyss of music available in this indie era.
I shudder at all of the bands I overlooked or simply didn’t have time for last year. And of course I shudder at the bands I wasted time trying to like (Animal Collective. Sorry, but there it is). One of the bands I’ve gotten a delayed start on is the London- based indie band, Fanfarlo. They released their debut album, Reservoir, in October of 09, and I didn’t start listening to them until late November when I had pretty much mentally wrapped up my list of the Best of 2009. So although this is not a new release, I want to give this album a proper review, even if it is a few months late!
There’s something to be said for an album’s opening song. Unfortunately many bands completely neglect to put thought into this particular song, which to me is the equivalent of wearing Crocs to a job interview or burping in someone’s face when you first meet them. I know I’ve beaten a dead horse on this blog talking about how much I value track placement in albums, but it’s because I truly believe placement can make or break an album. The first song has to set the tone.
Fanfarlo’s Reservoir, has one of my favorite opening tracks of the year with their song “I’m a Pilot,” a song that’s beat doesn’t feel like it’s produced by drums at all, but instead some atmospheric elements of another era altogether.
The whole album has that feeling of another lifetime. And while their use of more orchestral instruments like the violin, trumpet and mandolin may account for that nostalgic element, I think it’s lead singer Simon Balthazar’s whimsical voice that does it for me. ( I need to make a side note here that Simon Balthazar has to be the coolest name in the world. If I were a man, that’s what I’d want my name to be.)
The songs on this album are fairly fun and upbeat with lyrics that are bit darker. I really like every single song on this album, but my favorites are “Luna,” “The Walls Are Coming Down, “ “Drowning Men,” “Harold T. Wilkins” and of course “I’m A Pilot.”
What I like most about Fanfarlo and Reservoir is the same thing I like about Elvis Perkins in Dearland. These bands both push past the limits of the current musical climate and make music in a way that is beautifully and uniquely their own.
And I feel that’s it’s only fair to give this band and album an honorary spot on my Best of 09 list because I think if I’d gotten around to listening to them in October, they surely would have found a spot there.