Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled With Light (2012)

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This English group combines alt-rock, world-music polyrhythms and chamber pop into an amalgam that sounds like David Byrne sitting in with Philip Glass.

Fronted by Simon Balthazar, Rooms Filled With Light is Fanfarlo’s second release — following 2009’s far more somber Reservoir — and it fast tracks that project’s nascent explorations into artsy next-gen new wave. Set for release on February 28 by Atlantic/Canvasback, this refreshingly unprecious effort bests others in the same vein in that, while it’s a clear attempt at developing a broader complexity, the album never outthinks itself. While there are obvious references to the Serious Progressive Notions of Steve Reich and Arvo Part, at the same time it’s easy to identify whispers of late-1970s popcraft like, no kidding, Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac.

The baling wire holding everything together is what you might call the I Want My MTV template: Fanfarlo’s percolating beats, its jittery vocal textures, and its cerebral keyboard addendums. There’s no denying the deft, hooky allure of this music yet, at the same time, a sleek art-school intellect to the songwriting gives Fanfarlo an absorbing intricacy.

These are easy songs to come back to and, each time, you find something new.

Key tracks on Rooms include “Shiny Things,” best described as Howard Jones-meets-General Public; “Replicate,” with its hiccupy paranoia; and “Deconstruction” — a whiz-bang piece of post-punk which could have been an outtake from an early Cure album. For fans of Fanfarlo’s debut, there’s also the dark piano ballad “Vostok, I Know You Are Waiting.”

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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