London based Fanfarlo return with Rooms Filled With Light, the follow up to their 2009 debut Reservoir. The second album always seems to be a tricky prospect, but Fanfarlo have managed to successfully dodge the potential pitfalls and traps many have fallen into, creating an album that sounds fresh, while continuing the themes (both lyrically and musically) from their first record.
If there is one noticeable change, it’s that everything has gotten a bit more electric, with electric guitars in places where acoustics were before. There’s also the inclusion of synths and samplers, which weren’t there before. But then that seems to be the way of the world these days. What hasn’t changed, however, is the bands ability to write and craft great songs, which are infectious and catchy, while also managing to be witty and intelligent.
Rooms Filled With Light bursts into life with the brilliant “Replicate” and never looks back, staccato strings and building keys bringing an early sense of vibrancy and urgency to the proceedings, with the track sounding somewhat like an unused cut from the most recent Arcade Fire album. Second track “Deconstruction” is equally vibrant and joyful, with some nice horn embellishment and energetic drumming. The vocal harmonies between Simon Balthazar and Cathy Lucas do nothing to dispel the Arcade Fire comparison.
It’s an album that seems to pre-empt the arrival of the British spring and summer. It’s an album full of brightness, with joyful flourishes. Even at its most sombre, Rooms Filled With Light is an uplifting listen. There is a real fusion of styles on the record, with the band's initial folk-pop sound adapting to incorporate the broad range of new sounds brought to the fold with the inclusion of the synths and samplers.
Rooms Filled With Light is a bright and confident step forward by the band. It both stays true to the bands roots, but also shows a band not afraid to experiment and adapt. But when the product of such experimentation is as good as this what’s there to be afraid of?
Review Score: 8.9 out of 10