Fanfarlo had a lot of buzz surrounding its debut release, Reservoir. I saw the band headline at Music Hall of Williamsburg back in 2009 with support from the Antlers and Laura Marling. Both of those artists have been steadily building larger fanbases, but Fanfarlo seemed to disappear completely.
They’re back now with a teaser EP, Deconstruction/Reconstruction, but I’m not sure if anyone’s really noticed. In fact, while doing research for this post, I just found out that they’d already released a single, “Replicate.” Who knew!
“Replicate” is good, but sounds too much like Arcade Fire. Thankfully, “Deconstruction,” the first of two songs on the teaser, finds Fanfarlo sounding more like themselves. The catchy tune reminds me of something off of I’m From Barcelona’s latest, Forever Today, but Fanfarlo add their own flair with strings, horns and harmonies.
The second song, “Reconstruction,” is described by the band as “a 15-minute meditation on a pop song and what would happen if it just continued straight into a black hole, got torn into pieces and its component parts all re-emerged in a strange corner of the universe, some reconfigured into a bizarre new constellation and some completely transformed into a different beast altogether and then dipped in ink.”
It’s not exactly that serious, but it’s definitely new territory. The 15-minute track feels more like a Frankenstein of smaller tracks glued together with spacey transitions. First, there’s a string-and-bass-heavy piece that sounds a lot like Ra Ra Riot. The next piece picks up the tempo and relies heavily on saxophones and a muted trumpet playing modal jazz. Third is a slowly building piano, bass and synth piece that sharply drops off into a floating emptiness, with a muted trumpet, spotty percussion and a repeated vocal line. The trumpet segues into a drum machine-led closing number. Warbly synths and handclaps accompany the beat before it bursts into the full-band finale.
Fanfarlo’s art-rock experiment is a little “out there” compared to the pop of it’s sister song, but it isn’t as weird as advertised. Each piece seems to have its own ending and could probably stand alone, but it’s kind of cool to hear them all pieced together.
Despite the strength of the new material, Fanfarlo may have lost the momentum from their first album. They’re on tour this fall, but playing much smaller venues than before. Hopefully when the new album, Rooms Filled with Light, comes out in February, we’ll be hearing more about them.