This review originally appeared on The Arts Desk.
Even on first listen, without context or introduction, the music of The Fauns already seems familiar. Their sound is an amalgam of many of the things I have enjoyed in 2013: The History of Apple Pie, all guitar fuzz and sweetness; the shimmer of the newly-reunited Mazzy Star; the soundtrack to an early Sofia Coppola film; and, on “Point Zero”, the buzz of the crowd at an open-air rock show as imagined by somebody who decided to stay at home on a Friday night.
Lights is actually the second album from the five-piece who – and no offence to people of the south west – couldn’t sound less like they were from Bristol. Pin it on the breathy vocals of Alison Garner if you like because when they’re audible at all they’re the sound of a fictionalised Tokyo, or that sweet spot in the middle of the night when you just know that you’re the only person still awake – an unreal, barely-there netherworld. There’s actually a song about just that on the album: it’s called “4am” and it sounds as delicate and as fleeting as you’d expect a song of that name to sound.
When it ends, it’s as if a switch is flicked and the album tumbles downwards to hit the wall of guitar that is the grinding opening of “With You”. The album’s only jarring moment is the transition, because the song itself is as lusty and needy as those whispery vocals can go. Lights then ends with its strongest two tracks: “Let’s Go”, the firecracker pop song that for some reason wasn’t the lead single; and the shimmering, Mazzy Star-esque “Give Me Your Love”. It’s on the latter that Garner’s vocals are both at their most simple and most audible – but who needs to know what the songs are about when the sound is this much of a treat.
BUY: Rough Trade | Amazon [UK] | iTunes [UK]
Also this week: I suspect this will be the last of these weekly posts I make for 2013, as music lovers everywhere gear up to instead opine on their favourites of the year. However, among the flurry of Christmas albums being churned out by the major labels this week are some nuggets of indie gold: particularly the debut album from long-time Adam Stafford collaborator Robbie Lesiuk. Lesiuk will release this tomorrow, when it will be available to buy at a joint launch gig with Adam Donaldson at Behind the Wheel in Falkirk, or you can download a copy now.
Gig of the week: For those of us who’d struggle with a midweek trip to Falkirk, it’s good to know that there is plenty on in Glasgow this week too. The Scottish Fiction-promoted Beerjacket Christmas show on Thursday night will likely be lovely, and I’m excited to see Neko Case again at the Oran Mor on Sunday. But the winner – both for their effervescent live show, and choice of LYG house band Dave Hughes and the Renegade Folk Punk Band (in their last full-band show of the year) as opening support makes Larry and his Flask at Audio on Friday night this week’s must-see. Tickets are £8 plus booking fee in advance.