Rooms Filled with Light (Feb. 2012), the latest release by UK-based indie-pop outfit Fanfarlo, takes the band in a fresh direction, migrating more from a straight indie sound to a Euro-influenced new wave/Europop sound without sacrificing their identity as a band. It’s a transition that is surprisingly smooth, and somehow feels very right.
Fanfarlo is a prime example of an indie band using modern, out-of-the-box methods to make a name for itself: releasing a series of catchy singles, using the Internet to spread the word and build a fan base—and of course, playing at SXSW in Austin. Their hard work is paying off. Over the past couple of years, they’ve managed to land appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman and Last Call with Carson Daly, gotten song placements on TV shows like House and Grey’s Anatomy, and attracted the attention of Atlantic Records, who now licenses the band’s music under the imprint Canvasback Music.
With several multi-instrumentalists in the band, Fanfarlo’s overall sound sometimes sounds like an exercise in what-instrument-or-noisemaker-can-we-play-NEXT?. Over a dozen different instruments are spread among the five band members, and a single song can easily contain all of them. It all makes for a creative, eclectic, tasty blend, overlaid by Simon Balthazar’s distinctive lead vocals.
As I mentioned earlier, Rooms Filled with Light really adds a Europop feel to the band’s already-eclectic vibe—sort of a modern twist on 80’s new wave. But the retro feel sometimes goes even further back on the timeline. The use of glockenspiel and vibraphone on tracks like “Feathers” and “Dig” (combined with tasteful reverb) makes me feel like I’m listening to a soundtrack from a 1960’s movie (very chic), while the synth, bass and drums on “Shiny Things” and “Tightrope” place Fanfarlo squarely back in the 80’s new wave category—and yet they manage to make all of these sounds seem totally current. Quite a feat, if you ask me.
Bottom line: Rooms Filled with Light is filled with creativity, interesting sounds and musical color, and is a great listen overall—a record that looks backward and forward at the same time. It’s a fitting evolutionary move for an already great indie band.
ALBUM RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
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Posted in: Indie/Alternative Music