Fanfarlo singer Simon Balthazar is a pop chameleon. Depending on the song, his deep, emotive warble can conjure up any number of influences from all over the rock spectrum.
On "Finish Line," Balthazar's eccentric deadpan makes the song sound like a lost Talking Heads track. Accompanied by a soaring violin on "The Walls Are Coming Down," he bears an uncanny resemblance to Beirut. On "I'm a Pilot," Balthazar takes on a haunted quality that brings to mind Arcade Fire.
This isn't to say that Fanfarlo's sound is derivative. Quite the opposite, in fact.
While the band may recall a variety of influences, the new album, "Reservoir," feels authentic -- a polished debut packed with swaying melodies and lush arrangements.
Fanfarlo employs a diverse array of instruments, from saws to melodicas to mandolins, but the eclectic mixture doesn't distract from the band's fully realized and mature songcraft. The gradual build of "Finish Line" and the slow burn of "Comets" exude impressive restraint while still delivering a satisfying melodic payoff.
The unquestionable pop highlight of the album is the single "The Walls Are Coming Down," which is easily the most exuberant song of the lot. With its celebratory trumpets and a singalong chorus, Fanfarlo has created a track that can boast a broad appeal -- one that will hopefully boost them to a larger audience.
--Dan Miller, Weekend (Dec. 2009)