With their sparkling 2009 debut, Reservoir, Fanfarlo carved out a place in a fantastic year for indie rock as joie de vivre pop-folk darlings. Their yearning, raw-edged orchestral style still remains on Rooms Filled with Light, but they take a more exploratory approach to ’80s-inspired rhythms and lush, charming composition.
“Replicate” unveils an album rife with energy, waiting to bubble over. Staccato strings and spacey keys build this urgency, bottled up and thus released on the excellent subsequent track, “Deconstruction”. Here, Fanfarlo reminds you that their music just makes you happy to be alive. The most striking difference between their debut and Rooms Filled with Light is the tighter, artier vocal approach. Front man Simon Balthazar finds a happy vocal medium that sounds like a British amalgamation of Win Butler and David Byrne. This choppy, glottal-heavy style is punctuated by quirky New Order and Cure-inspired synth angles and makes for an album with much more texture and risk than the Fanfarlo we knew three years ago. Trademark, chiming 80s guitars and glimmering cascades of harmonies are there, but Fanfarlo adds a dash of horns and strings to fixate their style in the current age.
“Shiny Things” encapsulates the overall bright philosophy of the album: Shed the trivial shit, and pay attention to what’s real. “Tightrope” is a beaut, with keys, harp, horns, bells, and other instruments creating a quirky and robust pacer that gives way to other energizers like the punchy “Dig”.
Rooms Filled with Light offers an ideal precursor to spring as the band’s blossoming and gilded sound shines beautifully throughout the 12 tracks. “Everything Resolves” is the tidy closer, a 38-second conclusion to the lively album that functions more as a commencement to the band’s new direction. Opulent, unique, but still rooted in Fanfarlo’s original pop-folk style, Rooms Filled with Light is an ornate offering for spring.
Essential Tracks: “Deconstruction”, “Tightrope”, and “Dig”