The unusual fifth album from psychedelic indie-folk-prog-rock New Zealanders consists of a double album of 2 cd’s or vinyl; two short volumes that add up to that rare thing these days; a Concept Album.
Fandango surrounds you with it’s dreamy, ambient quality, a rich layered sound, swinging between Pat Metheny harmonies and Ray Davies witty ditties, all wrapped in modern production.
Black Mould is the eccentric opening track, an off-beat, trippy number that makes you wonder what the Kiwi maestros were on when they wrote it. Modern Rock passes quickly by and we’re onto The Captain: 80’s synth pop a la Ochestral Maneuvers’ Dazzle Ships, easily the most catchy, commercial track.
Thames Soup arrives as a sudden inpouring of Ray Davies and the Kinks; light guitar pop and a reflective lyric.
Evolution Did is a tiresome return to psychedelia with its nonsensical repeated hook. The unsettling Inside Me Dead is a moody and noirish atmospheric ‘ballad’ for want of a better description; it’s the post-trip come-down in the wee small hours.
The epic Corale begins as a dreamy instrumental, progressing to mid-tempo, distorted and sinister; the dream turning altogether darker, in the way concept-album masters such as Pink Flloyd, Radio Head, King Krimson (remember them?) used to do.
Supernatural is back to pure Ray Davies melancholy, which continues with Walls. Morning Riff passed me by entirely.
Sideways Glance is a bitter-sweet mid-tempo ballad with lots of layers and seventies flute, Bacharach and David in it’s genes, especially when it goes jazz-funk in the final movement.
Third act finale Friendly Society is a pure 70’s concept album, 17 minutes 40 of middle-era Pink Floyd styling. Taking up most of disc two, it rises and falls as the Fandango signature track.
There’s no doubt that Phoenix Foundation have talent and maturity as well as the courage to make exactly th album they want. Unfortunately that happens to be a self-indulgent throwback to 60’s, 70’s and 80’s favourites that seldom engages and doesn’t gell. SC
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