It’s not often that I comment on a bands fans but I feel that I need to before I dive into the review od Faun’s latest album. Faun is a band that recently has undergone various line-up changes with its Neo-Folk sound and now their sixth album see’s them sign with Universal – a huge coup for the band. With a large signing comes a slightly streamlined record. Anyone whom thought this wouldn’t happen is absolutely crazy. Outside their ardent fanbase no one knows the band and this album in many ways acts as an introduction to the wonderful world of Faun. It is a shame that “fans” see it fit to rip the band to shreds over this – especially when the quality of music is still vastly superior to what most bands are churning out in this field.
So it comes then, as no surprise that “Von den Elben” is a more streamlined, less deviant album that its various predecessors. For better and for some for worse. It’s certainly no sell out however and is jammed with quality tracks. Opening with “Mit dem Wind” you can hear a much cleaner, crisper sound. Things are brighter, tighter and polished. Faun have also spent the album gearing themselves towards a more pub folk effort which see’s the band pushing rowdy choruses and more direct melodies. “Diese Kalte Nacht” the single pushes the more electronic beats to the fore with a slow but deep bass drum section over the usual bagpipes and beautiful vocal melodies. Say what you will about their changing line-up, the vocals are always sublime. It’s also great to hear the harp get its moment in the sun too. Title track “Von den Elben” takes things back to the melodic harp and flute melodies of old with a gorgeous wistful track that is as timeless as the tide.
“Tanz Mit Mir” is the first track that really homes in the newer country pub influence. It’s the raspy male vocals that bring this home along with the sheer energy of the whole track as a whole. The call and response of male and female vocals works a treat and you can almost hear a Eurovision twang to it. “Schrei es in die Winde” is an absolutely stonking track though with a rousing chorus and pounding beat. I love how Faun can make a melody based on constantly meandering notes that never sit still. It’s as close to rock that Faun have dared to go to and I love the results. “Wilde Rose” is a beautiful militant track drenched in vocal harmonies that are all soft and warm but come together in a powerful way for the choruses whilst “Wenn wir use Wierdersehen” uses its lack of bass to really produce a top end pacey track full of woodwind and light vocals. Whenever that kind of production is used it always gives things a slightly more emotive vibe and it pulls through here.
“Bring mich nach Haus” has a very Irish feel to it with its final chorus and outro going up a note for effect. Even the slower tracks have a certain gusto to them – there’s little wallowing in this album. One place where things are damp however is “Welche Sprache sptricht dein Herz”. Here the minor keys pop out and things are kept downbeat and sombre for the first time all album. The downcast is then followed by a fan moment with “Andro II” which is a re-recording of Andro from “Licht” and is given an extended ethereal opening before blasting us with the awesome instrumental bagpipe jig.
“Minne Duet” returns to more raspy vocals and reminds me more of a swashbuckling track than the usual Faun music before the sumptuous “Thymian & Rosmarin” takes you over with the wonderous folksy guitars and duet vocals. If anything this is most Irish and mainstream to World music the band get to but it works beautifully. The album closer “Warte aur Mich” has an epic sway to its waltzing beat and closes the album out in mystical style.
Yes, it’s the most mainstream Faun have been to date in production value, song structure and general instrumentation. Does that make it a bad album? Certainly not. There’s a bounty of tracks to love and enjoy and that is the most important thing. The heart shines through.