Frustratingly labelled as a British Arcade Fire when debut album ‘Reservoir’ was released in 2009, highly talented five-piece Fanfarlo make a welcome return with ‘Rooms Filled With Light’, which admittedly will do little to undo those lazy comparisons.
The team make a shaky start with ‘Replicate’ and ‘Deconstruction’ - two tracks that are very much a case of business as usual for the band which, for the uninitiated, means pretty sounding, guitar-led indie pop backed with strings and brass. It’s not until a quarter of the way through the album that it truly comes to life. ‘Len’s Life’ owes much of its success to mid 1980s Talking Heads - indeed, there’s a conscious nod to music of that decade running through much of the album. This is quirky indie-pop yes, but thankfully, not of the annoyingly vacuous variety.
For a start, there’s a multitude of instruments that contribute handsomely to the band’s pleasingly effortless sound - mandolins, trumpets, and xylophones (always a good thing) all make an appearance through the album’s 12 tracks, and whilst the album as a whole isn’t a massive shift away from the foundations laid by ‘Reservoir’, there’s a decent haul of songs here that are certainly worthy of attention.
The joyous ‘Shiny Things’ is perhaps the closest to standout track ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’ from their debut, whilst the lazy sax and romanticism of ‘Tunguska’ offers up a welcome change in tempo for an album that seems content in its own sense of youthful playfulness.
There is depth on show here too - vocalist Simon Balthazar seems as relaxed in the melancholic tones of ‘A Flood’ (“…come another century full of dust, a flood will come here anyway…”) as he does in the catchy euphoria of ‘Feathers’. The presence of brass and strings never fail to add a layer of class to proceedings, and whilst it wouldn’t feel out of place listening to ‘Rooms Filled With Light’ on an old cassette walkman - it would fit perfectly twice on a C90 cassette after all - there is intelligence and creativity on display here that other bands would do well to pay attention to.