Fanfarlo album review: ‘Let’s Go Extinct’


The group Fanfarlo will perform in the Washington, DC area. (Photo courtesy of Fanfarlo)
April 25
FANFARLO
“Let’s Go Extinct”

Kindred spirits: British Sea Power,
Arcade Fire, Sufjan Stevens

Show: With Lilies on Mars on Saturday at U Street Music Hall. Show starts at 7 p.m. 202-588-1880. www.ustreetmusichall.com. $15.

Desperation is rarely quiet on Fanfarlo’s new album, “Let’s Go Extinct,” which briskly questions mankind’s long-term viability. The closing title track broods a bit, musing that “the world will go on without us.” But most of the songs feature lively rhythms and expansive melodies — as if the London sextet were throwing a going-away party for the human race, fueled by blaring trumpet, Latin syncopation, synth-pop flourishes and call-and-response vocals.

The lyrics cover a lot of thematically linked territory, from evolution and cosmology to Buddhism. But the words are seldom prominent in the ornate arrangements, which were recorded by acclaimed Welsh producer David Wrench. Such highlights as “A Distance” and “Landlocked” meld orchestral pop with Celtic- and dance-rock motifs that recall the 1980s.

That decade also is echoed in Simon Balthazar’s delivery; although originally from Sweden, the singer clearly has studied such mannered ’80s British singers as Morrissey and Simple Minds’ Jim Kerr.

“One day we’ll fall apart,” he asserts in “Cell Song,” but the music doesn’t illustrate that. The band deftly fuses its many influences without overwhelming its material. “Painting With Life,” for example, builds steadily from its introspective intro to a thumping climax atop a Steve Reich-like pulse. You might call it a musical big-bang theory.

Mark Jenkins

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