The Phoenix Foundation – Fandango
Somewhere inside this fat album, there’s a thin one trying to get out. Clocking in at over 75 minutes, The Phoenix Foundation haven’t so much over-indulged as gorged themselves silly over a prolonged period of time. The result is a blatant case of musical excess. The prime candidate being the closing track, ‘Friendly Society’, which weighs in at an astonishing 18 minutes minus a few crumbs and which leaves not a trace of melody in the memory. While this track would take up two seats on any plane, others commit the sin of synthesizer. The 80s may be back in fashion, but songs like ‘The Captain’ and ‘Evolution Did’ would have struggled to find their way onto one of Howard Jones’ lesser known albums. The Phoenix Foundation’s previous outing, Buffalo, was full of shimmery synths, but they were matched by guitar, percussion and gorgeous melodies. Here, there’s a temptation for the synths to overwhelm. There’s the feeling that the songs were constructed around the synth line. By contrast, on Buffalo there was the sense that the synths were used to complement songs that could stand alone by themselves. But Fandango isn’t a total disappointment. It’s an album that’s made for the digital age. Spotify it, then divest it of the excess baggage. What remains are six or seven pretty strong tracks, including the opener, ‘Black Mould’, as well as ‘Supernatural’, which really hits its stride in a Buffalo-like way. So, while Fandango is no classic, parts of it are eminently listenable. Overall, it would be a shame if in the future The Phoenix Foundation were to look back on their career only to regret having ordered from the dessert trolley quite so often. With a little self-discipline, there’s still time for them to slim down and get back on the scales without breaking them.