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First impressions: Faunts – Left Here Alone EP

22/11/2012
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Faunts believe in the power of the EP. There may be rather lengthy gaps between their albums but it seems to be becoming a tradition for them to release smaller music nuggets between the full-lengths; although, considering the average length of a Faunts song and how the EPs reach half an hour lengths, we’re not talking about small nuggets. But where the last EP M4 (2006), which also happens to be the band’s best release to date, looked forward with its more electronic direction foreshadowing the synthetic sounds of 2009’s Feel.Love.Thinking.Of., the new Left Here Alone takes a step into the past. The four songs here have their origins in the sessions around the band’s 2005 debut High Expectations/Low Results – whether they’re straight archive material or partial or full re-recordings is rather unclear thanks to the incredibly vague statements of the official press release. In either case, the sound certainly is far closer to the grand atmospherics of the debut than the electronic beats of the sophomore album; post rock guitars, ambient keyboards, distant vocals and a dreamy feel all around. It’s a late-release companion record for the debut, one could say.

The ugly, and rather unavoidable, truth is that Left Here Alone is based on shelved material not deemed good enough to be released during their original lifetime, re-recordings or not. Echoes of that origin are all over the EP’s feel: as a release it does not feel particularly important or exciting to the overall scheme of things and the band’s journey (liken it to a re-release bonus disc, if you may) nor do any of the songs give the impression that the band made a terrible mistake when choosing not to go further with them back in the mid-00s. But while those thoughts linger in the background, the actual material is more engaging than you’d expect. “What I’d Love to Hear You Say” is the most outwardly inclined song of the bunch with its lighter and catchier feel that charms from the get-go, “Stay a While” ends with a beautiful horn part that makes you wish Faunts would incorporate the said instrument in their music more often, and the title track at the end is the debut album and all its sonical elements bundled into a 10-minute nutshell to sink into, its beautiful soundscapes being the highlight of the EP. It’s only the opener “Alarmed” that feels like a disappointment, its nondescript guitar ambience never really going anywhere or making much of an impression. For a supposed cast of exiles, Left Here Alone is actually quite enjoyable.

It does not scream essential release however and all in all feels like a stop gap release to keep the band’s name afloat during the long wait for album #3 (and in-between the Mass Effect features). Where the previous EP M4 is an absolutely essential part of any Faunts collection, Left Here Alone’s charm arguably depends entirely on how you feel about the band’s debut album, given how much of a stylistic throwback it is to High Expectations/Low Results. None of the EP’s songs match the general quality of that album but make for a fitting companion and continuation to it, something both new and familiar for those who’ve sunk countless hours in that album.


What I’d Love to Hear You Say

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