A New International’s Come To The Fabulon is an ambitious record, drawing its influences from many different folk traditions.
Opener and first single ‘Valentino’ is as its name suggests, Latin and sultry, and builds to a crescendo before falling away into the gorgeous instrumental ‘Theme from Valentino’.
Changing the tempo and style, a more UK folk sound is found in ‘Come To The Fabulon’, which quickly swims the channel to pick up a French style and language for ‘Marie Claire’.
Singer Biff Smith’s breathy voice is more suited to the latter than the former, and seems to work best when it isn’t overreaching, when it’s more Scott Walker and less Matthew Bellamy, when it holds back from becoming overwrought.
‘I’m Your Kinda Guy’ sounds like it could be another single, Smith proclaiming that “I’m not the kind of guy who’ll see you home and dry, not the kind who’ll wrap you up and hold you tight.”
Lock up your daughters, he sounds like trouble to me…
The second half of the album remains strong, instrumental ‘Once Upon A Time In The Revolution’ nods its head to Morricone, and does so with style, whereas ‘When I Walked The World’ comes straight from a café on the Boulevard Saint Germain.
Occasionally the intros are so stirring and warming that the songs pale in comparison, and the lyrical content isn’t going to change the world, but that doesn’t take away from what they are trying to do with this album, straddling the globe, from spaghetti western to tango, from Parisian bar to home town folk.
Whether you call them a much more earnest Gogol Bordello, or Calexico with a stronger drive towards pop, expect them to find their way onto the soundtrack of an independent movie sometime soon.
Words: Stevie Williams