The JangleBox

Indie, Noise, Shoegaze… Music

Fanfarlo: Room filled with lights (2012)

Supongo que cuando has estado tres años sin publicar nuevo material y te apetece sentarte relajadamente en el estudio para registrar tu nuevo trabajo, en lo último piensas es en plasmar un material que contente a todo el mundo y que tenga la inmediatez de muchas de las canciones de tu anterior disco. Algo parecido debería ser lo que pensaron Simon Balthazar y sus huestes de Fanfarlo cuando comenzaron a grabar este Room filled with lights (2012). En él, Fanfarlo intentan plasmar muchos palos, intentan reflejar cómo ha crecido su música, intentan implementar la lista de instrumentos que son capaces de introducir en este su segundo álbum. El resultado final: si he de seros completamente sincero, me parece un tanto mediocre. Un trabajo deslabazado, desvahído, falto de garra, de energía, de inmediatez. Muy cuidado en su producción, pero falto de la emoción que se le supone a cualquier banda que produce su segundo disco. Si somos menos objetivos, pues Rooms es un intento apreciable de no estancarse en las casillas de su Pop-Barroco, experimentando con las cajas de ritmos, con los sintetizadores, con la Electrónica… manteniendo, eso sí, una cierta base Folkie y esos arreglos orquestales tan característicos. Para la producción han contado con Ben Allen (Deerhunter, Animal Collective), y para el diseño gráfico con Allison Diaz.

Fanfarlo – Room filled with lights (2012)

“I’m glad the term “charm offensive” exists because otherwise I’d be at a loss to find a concise way to pinpoint why it’s so hard to fully endorse Rooms Filled With Light, a record of bells-and-whistles baroque-rock that superficially has nothing wrong with it. On the follow-up to 2009’s sleeper hit Reservoir, Fanfarlo bring forth songs that are capably performed, professionally produced, and have the kind of perky melodies and implied optimism that would suggest the London quintet get along really well with each other. I’d have no reason to dissuade you from Rooms Filled With Light if time and money weren’t limited resources in determining whether a record was worth a listen. Which is sort of the problem: None of this can counter that Rooms Filled With Light most often feels “good” only because it’s “not bad,” existing at the center of a galaxy of bands used as exemplars of “boring indie,” but only serving as a mirror that reveals their idiosyncracies, where Fanfarlo simply have good intentions and risk aversion.
Strange then, since Fanfarlo seem to aspire to darker and difficult territory than Reservoir, a record whose success ultimately felt like the result of new Arcade Fire and Beirut albums’ being only theoretical at that time. They trade po-faced folkiness for influences of distinguished new wave haircuts and the production touch of Ben Allen, who of course helmed Merriweather Post Pavilion and Halcyon Digest, but more relevantly, a shockingly vital album from former UK bantamweights Bombay Bicycle Club. Though minor cosmetic changes, they result in Rooms Filled With Light’s playing out as the sonic equivalent of deciding to major in Economics, mildly ambitious, but ultimately pragmatic about having a set path to success. This strategy pays off in the subtly ingratiating first half: “Deconstruction” is “angular” done by squares, its new romantic pulse and wobbly surf guitar chords never shaking it too far from its sweet, Neon Bible-lite center. Likewise, Fanfarlo usually like to ease into their hooks, so the hearty chorus of “Lenslife” is a genuine surprise in its urge to stand up and be counted while “Tunguska” ekes into Dexys territory with its woozy saxophone arrangements and spirited harmonies.
But as Room Filled With Lights crosses a Peanuts-styled piano interlude (“Everything Turns”) into a Side B of songs as familiar and interchangeable as their titles (“Feathers”, “Bones”, “Dig”), you just come away thinking that the demand for fussy orchestral indie of this type is constant, whereas Fanfarlo are simply supply. From where does the love of Fanfarlo spring when Rooms Filled With Light never shoots for the power of populism nor something wholly individual? The cracked-whip cadence Simon Balthazar employs over the staccato violins on “Replicate” and “Tightrope” is too similar to Win Butler to not be a distraction, especially since he can’t commit to sounding truly unhinged or making bold declarations rather than pat musings (“We have a better chance on paper/ So we catalog our lives”). So when Balthazar pleas to “break it up into pieces/ Throw away what we don’t understand” on “Deconstruction”, the conservatism of the latter half rings more true despite a propulsive, downstroked bassline. Meanwhile on “Feathers”, Balthazar repeats, “It is the same/ And the river is the siren/ And the rock before the time you washed up feeling nothing at all,” enough to suggest he meant it as a singalong, but it fails to generate urgency. That, and the song piggybacks the same exact melody as Neon Indian’s decidedly roustabout “Terminally Chill”.
Look, I know this kind of stuff is easy to dismiss as lame prima facie, especially if you can’t possibly imagine perfectly reasonable listeners who don’t need to go to SXSW to have confidence in their opinion that a dude tapping at a sampler while standing perfectly still is bullshit most of the time. And I agree with Larry Fitzmaurice’s assessment from the festivalthat it’s important to have music you “like” rather than the false binary of “this rules” and “this sucks.” But it seems to me that you seek out music you love, whereas likable music simply finds you. And so Rooms Filled With Light is friendly and nondescript, but so are the vast majority of the people you unconsciously encounter on a daily basis– Rooms Filled With Lights is Jenny from a couple of cubicles over who wears cool shoes and watches “30 Rock”, it’s the guy who always nods hello when taking the treadmill next to you on Thursdays, it’s the waiter at your local coffee spot who doesn’t conduct himself like he’d rather be anywhere else on earth. Do they make things more pleasant? Sure, and I wouldn’t rush to turn off the radio if “Deconstruction” came up either. But would you voluntarily spend 45 minutes with these people? Why haven’t you?” (

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28 marzo, 2012 Posted by | Fanfarlo | 3 comentarios

Fanfarlo: Replicate (Single, 2011)


Fanfarlo, una de las revelaciones del 2009 con su mezcla de Folk e Indie-Pop de toda la vida, vuelven a la carga tras un pequeño paréntesis, en este 2011 con un single llamado Replicate, un tema en el que, además de abrirse a ciertas nuevas sonoridades electrónicas, parecen mostrar una cierta huella sonora cercana a The Stranglers. Bonito tema, en cualquier caso, que puedes descargar gratuitamente, además de ver su vídeo. Por cierto, la banda aterriza en mini-gira en España a partir del próximo 5 de Noviembre en San Sebastián, 13 en Tenerife, 15 en Madrid, 16 en Barcelona, 18 en Toledo y 19 cerca de mi tierra, en Cádiz, Sala Imagina.

Fanfarlo – Replicate (Single, 2011)

“Almost exactly a year ago we stopped touring and sat down to write a new record. Earlier this year we went to a remote slate quarrying town in Northern Wales to record it and now we finally have the finished result in our hands.
There is so much we want to show you! It was hard to decide where to start, but we decided to start at the beginning. So here is the first song from our new album — it’s called ‘Replicate’. Over the summer there were so many visual ideas we wanted to incorporate in presenting this music to you, both on your screens and live, coming to play in your city. The first puzzle piece is the video above we made in collaboration with Alex Southam.
(You can download the song too, by signing up to the mailing list.)
But that’s not all. We also have a small number of shows scheduled which we are terribly excited about. Simply cannot wait to play you all the new music. And of course, coming to the shows is the only way of hearing it” (

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11 octubre, 2011 Posted by | Fanfarlo | Deja un comentario

Fanfarlo: College Radio Sessions-Ep (2010)


Para este lunes hemos preparado un post sobre Fanfarlo, una de las revelaciones del año pasado, cuando se convirtieron en uno de los fenómenos del panorama musical y de la prensa/blogosfera, como bien reseñamos también en The JangleBox. Hype o no, el sonido de la banda, a medias entre el Folk y el Pop está bastante bien, y para que el interés no decaiga, comenzaron este año publicando un par de Ep´s en directo. Éste es uno de ellos, el titulado College Radio Sessions-Ep, tres temas en vivo con un sonido impecable, y además de gratis. Lo anuncian desde su MySpace, pero si quieres, pincha aquí y lo consigues en menos que tardas en rellenar tu dirección de mail, que es el único requisito. Yo ni me lo pensaba!! Lo dicho, que no decaiga el interés. Por cierto, la banda visitará España el día 17 de Abril, en Granada, en el Loop Festival. En su MySpace tienes los detalles.

Fanfarlo – College Radio Sessions-Ep (2010)

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5 abril, 2010 Posted by | Fanfarlo | Deja un comentario

Fanfarlo: Reservoir (2009), White Heat Recordings

Ya que parece que en toda la Blogsfera no se para de hablar de ellos, no vamos a resistirnos a la tentación de ser el único Blog musical que no haya comentado este álbum de debut de la formación británica Fanfarlo, liderada por el sueco Simon Balthazar, y avalada por gentes como David Bowie. Palabras mayores, me diréis. Pues sí, el grupo no está mal, pero yo creo que más bien lo tiros van por el lado del Hype, como ya se apuntaba en algún sitio musical. Es demasiada casualidad que todos los blogs y la prensa especializada hable de ti como ya uno de los discos del año cuando el tono de la banda es más bien un tono medio; no están mal, pero no para lanzar las campanas al vuelo. Buenas composiciones Pop bien adornadas, con buenos arreglos, teclados, violines, mandolinas, banjos, orquestaciones, trompetas, coros femeninos muy bien traídos… todo un arsenal de adornos para un grupo que graba su primer disco. En fin, como digo, un trabajo de un tono medio aceptable durante toda su escucha, con aires que recuerdan en su composición a David Byrne, con cuya voz guarda una semejanza tremenda, Calexico, The Go-Betweens, mezclando en ellas el Pop con tonos Folkies;y con buenos temas en él: I am a pilot, Luna, Fire Escape, The walls are coming down… El disco está grabado y producido en Conneticut por Peter Katis (Interpol). Click en la portada.

18 febrero, 2009 Posted by | Fanfarlo | 1 comentario


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