With the release of Rooms Filled With Light, Fanfarlo sounds like a band starting over again. They seem to have adopted a new identity, switching from the organic, folk sound that characterized Reservoir to an 80’s tinged synth pop reminiscent of acts like Tears for Fears or The Cure. It would be difficult to exhaust the list of comparisons that countless other sources have already drawn: a quick scan of the internet buzz surrounding the album reveals that almost no one can describe the band’s new style without drawing comparisons to other artists. While critics might write off the album as unoriginal for that reason, the real question is: how well does the band use the influence of bands before them to craft their own unique style?
In what could almost be described as an attempt to dazzle any listener unsure of the answer to that question, the first track, “Replicate,” opens with an urgency that advises listeners to brace themselves for the grand statements that follow. The song captures, in a way, the nervous anticipation one might experience during the ascent of a roller coaster. Just as a sense of nervous anticipation gives way to adrenaline once the roller coaster descends, the urgent, anxious tone of “Replicate” gives way to the joyful, fast-paced bass lines of “Deconstruction.”
Indeed, the band clearly did not forget how to build momentum in an album, in part through the careful use of orchestral arrangements. Thankfully, this is one element of their style that the band has not only kept intact, but has improved upon since their debut. Who knows where they would be without Cathy Lucas and Leon Beckenham, who play violin and trumpet, respectively? “Shiny Things,” the album’s best song, would not reach its triumphant climax without Beckenham’s trumpet. And the pensive “Bones” would not be as soul-searching if Lucas hadn’t sewn her tear-jerking violin parts throughout.
While Fanfarlo had quite a daunting task ahead of them to change their sound without alienating their fan-base or earning disdain from critics, they succeed largely due to the elements they retained during the shift. New fans and Reservoir devotees alike will be thrilled by the beautiful songs and joyful crescendos that the band continues to churn out on Rooms Filled With Light.