Simon Balthazar – vocals, guitar
Cathy Lucas – violin, mandolin, vocals
Justin Finch – bass, vocals
Leon Beckenham – trumpet, keyboards
Fanfarlo – Let's Go Extinct
1. Life in the Sky
2. Cell Song
3. Myth of Myself
4. A Distance
5. We're the Future
7. Painting With Life
8. The Grey and Gold
9. The Beginning and the End
10. Let's Go Extinct
Running time: 49:50
Let's Go Extinct tries incredibly hard to be a concept album, as it was promoted to be prior to its release. There are no recurring characters nor an overarching narrative to be found, but there are general themes that are found through the record, namely discussions of life on Earth and elsewhere, the end of the world and what happens then, as could probably surmise from the title Let's Go Extinct. It's vital when making such an album that a band demonstrates a dedication to said themes and a detailed exploration in order to make the record feel like a cohesive piece of work, instead more often than not the record falters , feeling haphazard at times and creating a feeling of utter disinterest. The songs themselves aren't too bad but rarely noteworthy, and more often than not you get the general impression that much like the band itself, we're on the cusp of something great but the album fails to ever truly connect with its audience.
“Life in the Sky” is the opening track and actually manages to encapsulate the whole album in one four-minute snippet. Lyrically the record has some clever and original ideas but struggles when it comes to deciding exactly how to express them. It's all a bit wishy-washy. Musically the tracks lulls from occasionally engaging but typically little more than white noise. The record tends to fare better when it abandons its math-rock soundscapes in favour of something a little more traditionally pop, such as the delicious melodies displayed on the likes of “Cell Song” and “Painting With Life.” “A Distance” serves as a stand out, an ensemble of 80s pop awash with saxophones, intriguing percussion sounds and a tantalizing female backing vocal that threatens to outshine that of Balthazar. Such highs are rarely reached on Let's Go Extinct however, and you begin to realise that this is a band who fizzled away after so much promise for a reason. The ability to write a good is right there for all to see, but the idea to turn good ideas into belting records is lacking somewhat.
Typically the record is at its best when Fanfarlo push they envelope of what pop music can sound like, using an array of instruments, many of which you and I have probably never heard of, let alone would know what to do with. The towering orchestra on the aforementioned “Painting With Life” delivers an unscalable wall of perfect sound, and the horn section of “Cell Song” is memorable. All over the record is smattering of synths that has often punctuated the band's sound, and they sound comfortable when experimenting with such gutsiness. When the album doesn't take itself so seriously, it is allowed to breath. The 80s disco of the album-closer and the carefree choruses that are too few and far between are moments that make you think lying underneath all the pretence and ponderings there's a pretty good retro pop album lurking.
What you can't fault about Fanfarlo and this album in particular is its ambition. Let's Get Extinct occasionally soars but not very high and not very long. There's lots of talk about the human race, who we are, what it means to be alive and things like that, and many brighter minds then myself have considered such things and put across an argument far more eloquent that Fanfarlo has. Indeed the band falls into its own trap hear, leaving the listening asking just what the point of the entire exercise was. Lyrics like “it's clear the wheels have turned / what will the world do without us” make you contemplate more this record's purpose than our own. Perhaps I'd be more forgiving of the album's tired themes if the music left a lasting impression, but it rarely does, and at fifty minutes long it's fair to say by the album's end we're left waiting for our own demise, not to say it's tedious, more like an accomplished old man who is ready to accept the warm embrace of death.
Fanfarlo - “A Distance”
The 411: Fanfarlo's Let's Get Extinct sets a high bar for itself. It's ambitious, it experiments with a wide range of sounds and instruments that often make for an interesting listen, but all too often the record loses itself in its complex but paradoxically boring themes. Vocally, Balthazar fails to leave a lasting impression, and like most things that happen in the day to day life the album ponders, we forget the majority of what we've just heard. Nothing truly lingers, even if there's a few pleasant enough entries when you first take in the record. Fanfarlo has promised much and delivered very little, and you have to wonder if contemplating existence will lead to them looking inward and working out just exactly what it is they're trying to say with each record.