By Al Kaufman
The indie-pop world took notice when Fanfarlo released their debut, Reservoir, in 2009. Now, three years later, Fanfarlo has gone back about 30 years to create their new sound. In listening to Rooms Filled with Light, one would not be unreasonable to believe the band sports Flock of Seagulls haircuts and wears day-glo suits. They don’t, but one could be forgiven for thinking as much.
Rooms Filled with Light is filled with scrappy synth-pop. It jumps and pulsates and gives an overall feeling of happiness. Founding member and lead singer Simon Balthazar has the perfect like and airy electronic sounding voice, yet he also conveys the blue-eyed soul and sophistication of Bryan Ferry or, most notably in the case of “Lenslife,” Lloyd Cole.
They sprinkle violins, xylophones, and horns above their shimmering and bouncing melodies; melodies that are perfect for a sunny, springtime day, beginning with the opening stacatto strings on “Replicate.” Even when they pare it down, such as on the only lush enough ballad, “A Flood,” Cathy Lucas’ beautiful vocals play well with Balthazar’s, unlike on the gently sizzling “Tightrope,” in which Lucas employs the perfect deadpan voice that gives the song a certain ’50s “Leader of the Pack” quality.
Rooms Filled with Light is bright and lively, but it has enough depth to not float away. “Tunguska” is about a meteorite that landed in Siberia. That’s heavy.