Live Review

Fanfarlo, Stereo, Glasgow

This is a leaner, less tweedy, more worldly band with an edgy confidence in their performance.

Opening with the tense Replicate, the track which foreshadows their imminent second album, ‘Rooms Full Of Light’, Anglo-Swedish five-piece Fanfarlo are focusing on new tracks tonight.

With more keyboards, more bass and less of the eccentricity of their earlier shows, the exuberance of their debut ‘Reservoir’ has been overtaken by a slicker proposition stripped of twee edges and folk antecedents.

Leon Beckenham’s trumpet is still a major feature of their sound, marking them out from a crowded field, and such instrumental fanfare should offer much to recommend them. There is evidence of a new maturity in their new songs, and in a slowed down take on ‘Reservoir’’s ‘I’m A Pilot’, but this is not necessarily an enhancement.

This is a leaner, less tweedy, more worldly band with an edgy confidence in their performance. They have that sharpness that comes from a couple of years on the road but, despite moments of flourish, something about this new attitude makes them appear almost drearily conventional.

Dispensing with their Amish aesthetic seems to have spread to their sound. ‘Comets’ retains its harmonies, but looses its woozy ease. Ambitious new single ‘Deconstruction’ surfaces out of a jazzy brass break – with singer Simon Balthazar on sax - and gives more clues to their altered dynamic.

When he notes that its great to be in Glasgow because, back in Sweden, Belle & Sebastian’s early albums were his first teenage music obsession, the way he trails off suggests that they’re no longer a primary influence. That Fanfarlo have departed from this initial indie path is now obvious. They have grown up, but not so much that fiddler Cathy Lucas can’t finish a song by wielding a tambourine as big as a hula hoop.

The anthemic ‘Finish Line’ is no longer a ramshackle jaunt and has lost much of its driving energy. Luna opens up with more synths and Harold T Wilkins is lively and familiar, but it takes the mariachi-tinged intro of ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’ to regain sonic punch. Fanfarlo’s uplifting musical heart is still beating but they have to be careful to prevent their new found proficiency from becoming pompous.

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