CD Fenech-Soler (CD 7026365),
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  • 1. Battlefields
    2. Lies
    3. Golden Sun
    4. Stop and Stare
    5. Great Unknown, The
    6. Demons
    7. Love, La
    8. Stonebridge
    9. Contender
    10. Walk Alone
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): BUN 160CD

  • Credits

    Riding on the back of the nu-rave wave kick-started by Klaxons in the mid-noughties, guyliner and sparkly, cardigan-wearing Northampton four-piece Fenech-Soler now face the tricky task of translating their series of festival/club anthems into a cohesive studio album. Having cited Michael Jackson's Dangerous as their main influence, their self-titled debut might not feature any Slash guitar solos, attempts at New Jack Swing, or lyrics about healing the world, but it does adhere to its "straight for the jugular" approach, with ten streamlined slices of dance-funk-pop, each of which could easily stand as a single in its own right. Indeed, although they're not as lyrically intriguing as Klaxons, as NME-friendly as Delphic, or as experimental as Friendly Fires, they are perhaps the most anthemic band from their small sub-section of the indie-disco genre, thanks to a never-ending supply of highly addictive synths, explosive choruses, and floor-filling electro beats, as evident on lead single "Stop and Stare," which opens with some choppy Italo-house chords and twinkling '80s-tinged synths, before slowly building up to a crescendo of pounding rhythms, trance-pop riffs, and an epic middle-eight that wouldn't sound out of place in a Paul Van Dyk DJ set. The four-to-the-floor vibes continue on the driving and punchy "Demons," an infectious blend of shimmering electronica, thumping basslines, and infectious, cooing backing vocals; opening number "Battlefields," which begins with a wave of hymnal choral chanting before descending into Chemical Brothers knob-twiddling territory with some clattering breakbeats, wailing sirens, and twitching acidic techno, and "The Great Unknown," which blends Hall & Oates-esque AOR melodies with breezy Gaelic house. But the band, named after bassist Daniel's full surname, aren't afraid to take their glittery, hands in the air sound outside the dancefloor, either. The chunky, dirty brass hooks and bubbling underlying techno of "Golden Sun" echo the self-assured funk of Justin Timberlake's "Sexyback," whose producer, Timbaland, also appears to have been the inspiration for "Contender," an energetic slice of staccato R&B which allows lead singer Ben Duffy to showcase his falsetto range, while "Stonebridge," the closest thing to a ballad, is a gorgeously melancholic piano-led number whose chill-out vibes would have made a far more appropriate closing track than the album's only real dud, the plodding and meandering Wall of Sound-lite "You're Alone." While their fellow alt-dance peers are often responsible for music it's impossible to dance to, Fenech-Soler have produced a predominantly pure party record that makes it impossible not to. ~ Jon O'Brien

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