Kicking off the inaugural PlanetNotion #BandoftheWeek feature is one of our summer festival squeezes, Fenech Soler. Across this week (and weeks to come), we’ll be publishing a review of a band’s album, an in-depth interview, and finishing off with a fantastic free download of one of their tracks.
First up, a look at Fenech Soler’s record.
It’s a rare band that so clearly brings back memories of dancing about in a field with your mates, hands aloft, paper cups of beer flying, the womblike grasp of the crowd as you jump, the twilight glare of the days final rays streaming into your sunglass-shielded eyes. As the tunes reach an apex, everyone jumps in time, the Moogs kick in, then the beats stop as the crowd collectively shouts out lyrics. It’s an electrifying moment that anyone with a spine, a heart and a pair of ears will have experienced at a festival this summer, and one which shoots repeatedly from Fenech Soler’s debut, self-titled album.
With dance tunes based on strutting catchy basslines that ring in your ears, Fenech Soler’s record is an intense, hi-NRG blend of indie sensibilities with Moog-flavoured themes. Kicking off with the moody track ‘Battlefields’, the album soon switches into full throttle with standout track ‘Lies’. It’s as catchy as a viral video in Shoreditch, as intense as an all-night rave and as forelorn as a breakup in the rain. Mixing pop hooks and slick production quality has not diminished these powerful, emotional songs that hit you like a glitter-coated bass drum to the face. It is, needless to say, an intoxicating combination.
The rest of the album keeps the intensity up, with blended intros and careful knob-twiddling proving that these boys can make full-on club anthems like forthcoming single ‘Stop & Stare’. The compelling urgency in lead singer Ben Duffy’s voice – with almost-strained, semi-falsetto vocals and lyrics exploring the darker side of relationships – ensures that even quieter tracks like ‘The Great Unknown’ and ‘Stone Bridge’ retain an addictive, emotional quality that is can be somewhat lacking in modern dance music.
As if to reinforce that message, Fenech Soler’s relentless tour schedule (which started early on this year and continues right through ‘til mid-November) is also refreshingly hardworking and earnest, and this frenzied gigging has seen them build up a massive fanbase across the country, notably outside of the confines of major city centres.
While some might not characterise the band’s musical style as massively innovative or fresh (particularly in the wake of Friendly Fires), the album is without a doubt filled with tunes that merge high-quality pop music with themes, signifiers and touches from across the dance music world, from the beaches of Ibiza-house to the frozen depths of Berlin minimal techno.
Ultimately, this is a record brimming with the kind of tracks that are likely to tickle your ears as the Autumn progresses, and if you’ve not been lucky enough to catch them in a field this summer, then you’re cast-iron guaranteed to hear them out and about as the evenings draw in. If you had the Friendly Fires’ album on repeat last year, are lusting after your lost summer of tents and music, or simply looking for an impressively catchy dance record, Fenech Soler are the band for you.