REVIEW album Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Evolution & euphoria abound on Fanfarlo’s wonderful 3rd LP

Old Subbacultcha

Old Subbacultcha

Chock-full of the kind of slow-burn anthems they cut their teeth on with debut ‘Reservoir’, married with the musical exploration of follow-up ‘Rooms Filled With Light’, ‘Let’s Go Extinct’ is infinitely more life-affirming than its title would suggest

Lets-Go-Extinct-600pxFanfarlo - Let's Go Extinct (OUT 10TH FEB)

‘Let’s Go Extinct’ lies neatly in the intersection of the
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and
Arcade Fire meets
Belle & Sebastian baroque-folk leanings of Fanfarlo's debut
‘Reservoir’ and the 80s synth shenanigans of 2012's follow-up
‘Rooms Filled With Light
. Taking the sheer exuberance of the former with some of the textural layers that the electronic dabblings of the latter added is certainly no bad place to be and whilst the lofty peaks achieved in
‘Reservoir’ will always take some toppling for me being as it was once of the most thrillingly fully-formed debuts these ears had heard in a while,
‘Let’s Go Extinct’ picks neatly up from last year’s excellent EP
‘The Sea’ to redress some of the relative disappointment of the second album and show there’s plenty life left in these dogs yet. Whilst the band themselves have proclaimed
‘Let’s Get Extinct’ to be an album preoccupied by the big questions (
“where the hell are we, and where are we going next?” no less) and there are clearly moments of weighty subject matter (the dystopian
‘We’re The Future’ or Balthazar’s desperate yelps of
“it’s gonna die” on
‘Ruse’), everything is wrapped in something altogether more celebratory; a real sense of elation and warmth at all times. The buoyant sugar rush of
‘A Distance’ which featured on
‘The Sea’ EP is a good barometer of the euphoria that pervades throughout  although as signals of intent go, opener
‘Life In The Sky’ is similarly leading. It’s a slow-burn that builds and builds with bouncing bass and joyful trumpet and more prominent backing vocals from keyboardist Cathy Lucas especially when she burst out from behind frontman Simon Balthazar in the song’s closing stages with a gleefully infections refrain. I’m a sucker for male and female vocal interplay at the best of the times (euphemisms be damned) so it’s a delight to find them peppered throughout from the more harmonious and sweet ‘
Cell Song’ (which also boasts some fantastically urgent plinking keys and dubby bassline) to the more atonal breakdown of
‘Landlocked’ which seems to occupy the relatively uncharted territory that lies between the unabashed pop of
Stock Aitken Waterman, all sparkling keys and a faraway saxophone, and the tribal theatrics of
Talking Heads. The 80s influence is ever-bubbling under; the distant sax returns augmented by arpeggiating synth on
‘The Beginning And The End’ and whilst the heavens-bound mariachi trumpets on
‘Grey And Gold’ tease Spaghetti Western, the casual earworm of the chorus hints more at
Prefab Sprout or
Deacon Blue which is obviously a good thing. Then there’s the gorgeously lush
Beach Boys ballad
‘Painting With Life’ whose simple piano, swooping strings, joyful brass and military drums effortlessly navigate the thin line between pastiche and fond homage with aplomb, in much the same way
REM did with 1998’s wonderful
‘At My Most Beautiful’ and it’s a case of saving the best for last with the heartstring-pluck of closer
‘Let’s Go Extinct’, the kind of swooning ballad Fanfarlo seem to write in their sleep but is somehow no the less affecting. How’s this for a closing line...
“It’s clear the wheels have turned, we’re standing in the way of ourselves, the world will go on without us and the dust will arrange itself again” Pure poetry. Long may they evolve.