Album Review – Are You There? by Fontanarosa (Howlin’ Banana Records)

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Fontanarosa used to be the solo project of Paul Verwaerde (Monotrophy), who released a eponymous debut that was swathed in krautrock anxiety and brilliantly burdened by exalted, twisted, left field riffs that nibbled away at the parameters of post-punk and alt. jangle-pop.
Now surrounded by a full band, the sound is naturally bigger and more engulfing from a production perspective, but never really strays from the brilliance of before. As such we hear three definitive musical nuances, that batter away at our aural senses with varying levels of intensity.
Initially, the French foursome excel in left field guitars. At there most gloriously ugly, tracks such as Way In Out, Oh Id and the stand out All By Myself, match Pylon for the sinuous style of their riffs, whilst taking on the original modernity of an act like Lewsberg, with their ability to find something fresh out of so few chords. It is all so perfectly simple.
Beyond this sense of serpentine thing gets less caustic, without ever really delving into the realms of pretty. Here Anytime takes the gusto of the above template, before gradually allowing Big Thief style laconic to develop, whereas Hold On and Final Distance Ghost move towards a The Bluetones / Britpop muscularity.
Hopefully, the formation of a full band might see this project concentrated upon by Verwaerde for the foreseeable future, as this is a sound that deserves to sit more readily at the same table as the growing number of alt.jangle greats.

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