Collective energy shining through the doom-and-gloom
Fanfarlo are a British baroque-pop sextet who took their name from a Baudelaire novella. They've incorporated Harry Houdini's classic stunts into their live shows; they title their songs things like "Harold T. Wilkins, Or How To Wait a Very Long Time;" their tunes have been featured on the Twilight soundtrack and on Grey's Anatomy. So it goes without saying: These guys take themselves way too seriously and they bring plenty of melodrama to their major-label debut Reservoir, a 46-minute opus that comes on like a tamped-down version of Arcade Fire.
The album opens with "I'm A Pilot," a plodding ballad that features ham-fisted pianos, chain-rattling percussion and precious string melodies that evoke Beirut's sepia-toned, mid-19th-century melodrama. "I've bitten all my nails to the bone…like a stone," croons singer Simon Balthazar in his high, nervous wail. From there, Fanfarlo keep things heavy and overly gilded, from the military-march beat of "The Walls Are Coming Down" to "Drowning Men," which cribs the chugging chord progression of Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)."
Fanfarlo are best when they bring their music into the present, especially on "Luna," a raucous, fist-pumping anthem features gorgeous cascading synths and ghostly theremin — and one in which their collective energy finally shines through the doom-and-gloom.