Review Summary: From celestial synths to majestic brass, gorgeous melodies are everywhere.
Whether it be due to the growing patience that comes with maturity, or easier access to music, it feels like a decade since I have been genuinely excited for a new release. “I’ll listen to it in a couple of weeks” could be plastered on one of my QuickButton keys, such has been my indifference towards listening to an album as soon as it hits the digital shelves. And while the marketing hyperbole of press releases has long since been dispatched to the “Ignore” portion of my mind, I couldn’t help but feel some kind of positive anticipatory sensation when reading the promo for Fanfarlo’s third LP ‘Let’s Go Extinct’. “Having cast off the colder, more synthetic feel of their second record”, the blurb stated that “in many ways, (this is) the true successor to the band’s much-feted debut ‘Reservoir’”. Since the gloriously breath-taking ‘Reservoir’ was one of my albums of 2009, I couldn’t wait to lay ears on ‘Let’s Go Extinct’.
Far from retreating to the indie-folk influences of their debut, ‘Let’s Go Extinct’ is more a sensible merging of the two styles which the London-based chamber-pop quintet has previously showcased. What is such a pleasantly impressive surprise on this David Wrench co-produced album, however, is how seamless this blend has been performed. From the celestial synths and majestic brass & woodwind combination of 6 minute opener ‘Life in the Sky’, to the ‘Reflektor’-like new-wave and disco influences of lead single ‘A Distance’, Fanfarlo make excellent use of their multi-instrumentalists to envelop the auditory senses without ever overwhelming them. Elsewhere, everything from soothing clarinet to soaring strings enter proceedings, while – as can be heard on the rhythm-heavy second single ‘Landlocked’ - the guitar, bass and drum foundations are suitably sturdy.
Also – and more worryingly – included on the aforementioned press release was a reference to ‘Let’s Go Extinct’ being “a concept album about human evolution and possible futures”. While lyrics such as “We’re standing in the way of ourselves, the world will go on without us and the dust will rearrange itself again” will result in as many eye-rolls as intriguing dissections, it is thankfully delivered in a fashion which is more buoyant than pretentious. Swede Simon Balthazar once more recalls Arcade Fire’s Win Butler; his elegantly dulcet voice rarely failing to engage, even if he could do with varying his tone a little more frequently – as can be heard on the keys-driven catchy chorus of ‘Cell Song’. To that end, the boy/girl dynamic occasionally created by backing vocalist Cathy Lucas is a welcome addition, if a little too under-utilized.
So, while ‘Let’s Go Extinct’ clearly bests the ambitious reinvention of predecessor ‘Rooms Filled With Light’, does it match up to their superb debut? Ultimately; “no”. This 47 minute album relies a little too much on one tempo, with moments such as the explosive horn-led climax of ‘Painting With Life’ being too few and far between. While very consistent, the tunes could also do with more immediacy, falling short of the individual heights needed to take the record to the next level. It’s a real shame too, because this overlooked ensemble deserves to be right up there with music’s heavy-hitters. Of course, such nit-picking goes hand-in-hand with eager anticipation, and should in no way lead to such a meticulously arranged LP being disregarded. Gorgeous melodies are ubiquitous, and seemingly every moment has been carefully crafted with immaculate attention to detail. Such intricacies – some subtle and some grandiose – should only serve to enhance the album’s replay value, hopefully rendering Fanfarlo’s future anything but extinct.
Recommended Tracks: Life in the Sky, Cell Song, Painting With Life & We’re The Future.