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The Phoenix Foundation: Fandango

Album Reviews:

Q (Magazine) (p.109) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he band are in a wilfully ambitious mood....[With] pop diamonds..."

Album Notes

Fandango, the lofty, fifth long-player from Kiwi space rockers the Phoenix Foundation, clocks in at 78 minutes, which considering the Wellington sextet's penchant for cosmic extrapolation, is relatively tame. The group's slow ascension from regional to international psych-pop prognosticators mirrors their distinctive sonic world-building, which falls somewhere in between Meddle-era Pink Floyd, the Church, and atmosphere-heavy Brit-pop outfits like Keane and Elbow. Fandango's most absorbing moments occur when the band is at its most focused, and though the majority of tracks hover around the five-minute mark, full-on flights of fancy are refreshingly rare. Frontman Samuel Flynn Scott's laconic, Steve Kilbey-esque delivery leads the charge on standout cuts like the expansive opener "Black Mould," the propulsive "Supernatural" (which arrives just in time to wash away the watery haze left in the wake of the languid instrumental "Corale"), and the jazzy one-two punch of the antepenultimate and penultimate "Walls" and "Sideway Glance," either one of which would have been a more appropriate closer than the trippy, yet colossally dull, just under 18-minute-long "Friendly Society." In fact, Fandango (as a whole) could have used a trim before going out in public, as its more indulgent escapades tend to render its more engaging moments a little dull around the edges. That said, it's still a verdant, imaginative, lush, and occasionally unsettling work that hits the sweet spot more often than it misses its mark, and while it may not shake the rafters, it most certainly fills up the room with sound. ~ James Christopher Monger



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