Album: Fol Chen, Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made (Asthmatic Kitty)

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

"We are cryptic and joyful and we would like you to dance," claim the enigmatic Fol Chen, likening themselves to the mysterious black monolith on the cover of Zep's Presence – a complete red herring as regards the group's musical approach, which favours synths and strings rather than rock and riffs.

One aspect they do share with the former rock gods is a careless attitude to personal responsibility, with the protagonist of "Cable TV" trying to lure the object of her affections to some dubious motel, while the singer of "You and Your Sister in Jericho" offers her temptations more bluntly: "Fuck your friends, they don't care/ Smoke too much, and dye your hair," she murmurs enticingly, while guitar, pedal steel and horns perform a slow, slurred waltz over an enervated drum-machine pulse, before it all dissolves into a blur of drums and thunderous distortion. It's impossible to pin the sextet down to a specific area of the musical map: one moment they create a kind of quirky electro-pop, as on the funky "No Wedding Cake", but elsewhere, disparate elements – lumbering, brusque drums; lap steel; prepared-piano; calliope-textured synth lines; various horns – are mingled in intriguing combinations that avoid definition.

Pick of the album:'No Wedding Cake', 'You and Your Sister in Jericho', 'Please John, You're Killing Me'