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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Electronic heaven

This album hits all the right spots. My first TPF album and I am very impressed. The sort of stuff you must listen to at night or on a road trip through the wild South Island of NZ.

A beautiful Long Player

I can see why TPF decided to release this as a double album. It's been very thoughtfully sequenced, designed to be listened in order, this will test the modern iTunes listener. While the songs are all strong and stand out in their own way, when listened to from start to finish, the true genius of this album takes form.
I've been a fan of TPF since I first heard All in an Afternoon, off the arguably greatest sophomore album you'll ever hear: Pegasus, on the radio so I was anticipating this release immensely, and sometimes that sort of expectation can be the undoing of an album. I am pleased to say that's not the case with Fandango. Quite the opposite, Fandango is a rich textured album with many interesting arrangements that reward repeated listening. Far synthier but just as dreamy as its predecessors, this is music for dancers and the stoners.
I am reluctant to single out individual tracks because that would undermine my desire to stress the importance of letting this play out in long player form but the album definitely has its peaks, often in little moments like when instrumental Corale hits its stride. Or when you realise that Sideways Glance is so infectious that you've been dancing for the last 5 minutes without realising it. Black Mould is an incredible opener with a clever hook and use of melody in the lyrics. The lead single, The Captain, will invade your dreams, such is the impression it imprints on your consciousness.
TPF are going from strength to strength and show no signs of slowing down as their fan vase grows outside of their native New Zealand. This will help it grow. It's a fantastic album. Two thumbs way up and waving in the air.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Wellington, New Zealand

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s

Luke Buda, Conrad Wedde, and Samuel Flynn Scott are three guys from New Zealand who grew up listening to Pantera, Slayer, and Sepultura and decided to form a band. However, the band they formed, the Phoenix Foundation, suggested they left all their adolescent influences at the door once they picked up guitars — embracing a sound that incorporates the pastoral calm of alt-country and freak folk as well as the cool passion and sonic wanderlust of indie rock, the Phoenix Foundation play smart,...
Full Bio
Fandango, The Phoenix Foundation
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