Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Fauns - Lights

Album review by jay@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Invada records are quietly yet quickly becoming a label you can trust, where you follow every release for you know that they are going to give you something special. From Thought Forms and College, Invada now deliver to us the gift that is the breathtaking second album 'Lights' from The Fauns. We are ushered in on a hushed, elegant, mesmerising soundscape like coming into dock from the edge of a supernova with 'Point Zero'. It sweeps around you, building on Vangelis synths, like the dawn breaking, casting golden hues across the land, holding you close and intimately before the rush that sends you skyward that is 'Seven Hours'. Here you have the first hit of the delicate, honey-coated vocals from Alison. They entrance with a magic not heard since you first fell for Hope Sandoval. Then 'Seven Hours' takes you up in its arms and dances you around the sun, filling you with a sense of awe-inspired, wide-eyed wonder. An irresistible tattoo of drums pushing you higher and higher, then as 'Seven Hours' reaches out to its wonderful climax and you fear that you may have to come down from this ride, 'Ease Down' shoots you to the stars. It is one of the most exhilarating hits you will feel this year. Filling every part of you with light of a thousand stars, close your eyes and you are riding solar winds while dancing in constellations.

Oft after such a triumvirate of songs you are let down. Here The Fauns show mastery of their craft by not trying to taking us any higher, but giving us the crunchier, near pop dervish of delight that is 'In Flames'. It has a touchstone in The Breeders, yet is still filled with a magic that is singularly their own. It has a sublimely massive hook that will have you spinning around with your arms open and its sudden end will leave you breathless and smiling. With incandescent guitars and sounds that are darker and more introspective, 'Nothing Ever' is a malevolent, brooding beast, lurching and sprawling, yet still utterly beguiling. Only Mogwai have harnessed the sonically sinister in a similarly captivating way. This is no pastiche and The Fauns are totally in control of the hydra-headed beast that is 'Nothing Ever'. And whereas the Scots would take the sound to a ear-bleeding morass of sprawling time, the beast is caged perfectly within three and a half minutes. On all of 'Lights', The Fauns show eloquent restrain, not one song outstays its charms, in fact at times you yearn for them to indulge you for longer.

The dark clouds are then parted with a scythe of kaleidoscopic light that is the title track. 'Lights' has the album's loosest feel, like a magical carousel ride. It embraces you with a sense of abandonment and gives you a shot of pure, unbridled joy. Then 'Rise''s sounds allow you to catch your breath, to centre yourself and allow you to absorb the exhilarating journey that you are on, while washing you with sounds of warmth, crimsons and ochre hues. A seductively, charming and loose-limbed riff, like something Peter Hook has been looking for since 'Technique', alongside a motorik beat are the foundations for '4am'. Perhaps the album's most accessible song, yet no less rewarding for it. It seduces you, curls around you, while working its way into your core. '4am' is the song that we were all hoping the second The xx album would have to melt their ice. The Fauns deserve to have found it and keep it. On any normal album it would be a stand-out, here it fits seamlessly into 'Lights'' beauty.

Urgent, throbbing, heavier, 'With You' stomps on you, drawing blood from its six-inch stilettos. It whips you into submission while we are told "you are beautiful". Its claws mark you, your heart beats faster with the intensity and pleasure. The chains are then broken and we are propelled in the sun with the breathless ride that is 'Let's Go'. Housing the perfect krautrock metronomic beat, and simply transcendent guitars, like riding at 400 mph through the city, tearing free of its clutches, escaping into the blinding sun. It pushes you harder, faster, higher and more, until you a free. Like the sky riding cousin of Secrets Machines 'Nowhere Again' and Primal Scream's 'Shoot Speed Kill Light'. And so the the end of this near perfect journey that is 'Lights' with 'Give Me Your Love'. It pulls you in, takes you to the time when you and your love's eyes are all that there is in the world. When you breath the same air, you loose yourself into them and fall into bliss. 'Give Me Your Love' is the sound of that singular moment. Then it is over. The journey is done. The light is switched off and you world is a little greyer again. The Fauns have given us one of the albums of the year. It is a breathtaking ride that simply has to be enjoyed over and over.





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