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1. I'm a Pilot
5. Fire Escape
6. These Walls Are Coming Down
7. Drowning Men
8. If It Is Growing
9. Harold T. Wilkins, Or How to Wait for a Very Long Time
10. Finish Line
11. Good Morning Midnight
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 522279
Fanfarlo; Peter Katis
Simon Trought; Greg Giorgio; Paul Jones; Peter Katis
Personnel: Linnea Weiss (cello).
Audio Mixer: Peter Katis.
Recording information: Random Colours; Soup Studios; Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport, CN.
For anyone who's paid the least attention to the tasteful, tuneful, nebulously rootsy strain of indie rock that was in ascendance throughout the mid- to late 2000s, Fanfarlo's debut album will sound instantly and inescapably familiar. The London-based quintet favor a genial affect, moderate tempos, and a blend of orchestral (violin, trumpet) and folksy (mandolin, accordion, harmonica, saw) instrumentation akin to acts such as the National and Grizzly Bear, while vocalist Simon Balthazar's broad, heartfelt crooning invites immediate comparisons to Beirut's Zach Condon. Most of all, it must be said, the band display an undeniable similarity to the Arcade Fire, with whom they share all of the above-mentioned qualities as well as a distinctly earnest, quietly dramatic, emotional fervor. If anything, the imitation is a slightly pale one -- even at its most impassioned, their brand of chamber pop bombast is never as potent and unrestrained as that Montreal outfit -- but if they're unlikely to inspire unbridled passion in most listeners, the familiarity of their sound should breed plenty of contentment. Fanfarlo are at their best when their lush but occasionally dreary instrumental efforts are focused around a strong, simple melody, as is frequently the case here -- on pop-leaning cuts like "Fire Escape," "Finish Line," and "Harold T. Wilkins," and particularly on the sweet, piano-led ballad "If It Is Growing." That said, the most striking thing here may be the opener, "I'm a Pilot," which impresses as much with its hypnotically slow, chugging rhythm (provided by foot stomps and sleigh bells) as with Balthazar's typically wailed (and particularly Win Butler-ish) vocal turn. ~ K. Ross Hoffman
Rolling Stone (p.121) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "'Ghosts' goes from glowering surge to New Wave dance jam, and 'Finish Line' uses horns strings and electronics in the service of errant prettiness."
CMJ - "Even though Fanfarlo's songs are intensely personal, their somber melodies create nostalgia on the listener's part."
Q (Magazine) (p.104) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[W]hen they get it right, as on the glorious 'Finish Line,' the results are irresistible."
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Atlantic (Label) 7567895663
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