Jazzy Shoop Shoop Indie Gem
Remember when Beck kicked off the low-fi don’t-give-a-crap indie pop album? His influence has been felt far and wide since and this is what I instantly think of when I think of Fenn Is Cool, who’s just released his debut album ‘The Definition of Cool’. Fenn has decided to mix up that low-fi pop sound with lounge jazz and the result is something that is equally catchy, lazy, off-kilter and bizarre.
One thing I love is the opening track is a 45 second thank you for buying the album! It prepares you with its electric piano, drumstick percussion and seaside organs that will permeate the album. ‘Vertigo’ moves into a pacey seaside lounge jazz-pop track. It’s cute, feisty in its own way and good indie pop fun. ‘I Want to be Rich and Famous” pops itself right back to the ’70s with a vinyl up close production. The melody is purposely clumsy but cutesy as Fenn pops out random pop culture references – the issue being in 25 years no one will care about which celebrity was with who. Brass and vocals come to the fore with the beautiful ‘So Do You’ that feels quite Bjork-ish in some ways. The ballad is warm but melancholy at the same time – a real gem. Then there is the absolute classic ‘I’m so Cool’. The ’80s Casio keyboard drum crunch over rolling electric piano that’s not really played properly creates the ultimate tongue in cheek retro-cool cheese-fest. Fenn just sings the title over and over for the majority of the track and I genuinely laughed out loud… and its…so…damn…catchy. ARGH!
‘Cathedrals’ reorientates you back towards good indie pop again. It’s a really clever piece that builds and builds over time into its funky finale and takes all the jazzy silliness and channels it into something meaningful. ‘This Time of Year’ is a three-minute meltdown and truth bomb that cross over each other. The track starts off as a cascade of synths and chords as Fenn sings about the boredom of today making it hard to always want to try again tomorrow, but as all the noise fades away we are left with just a room mic and the song being played on a piano and sung earnestly. On first listen it genuinely took me by surprise how open it felt having not five minutes earlier been jigging around my living room singing loudly about how cool I am. The album then rolls out three piano-based tracks to round off the album. With each one, the mood deepens and sobers whilst the music becomes more and more fractures and distorted. ‘Cameron’ and ‘Goodbye’ in particular really worked well here. The whole album is over in under 25 minutes and I felt like I had been on a whirlwind tour of Fenn Is Cool. I wanted more.
To really get into this album you’ll need to either love electric piano or have an appreciation for cheesy jazzy elevator music. Hearing it then be used as a basis for pop initially is funny but Fenn Is Cool makes it work. I preferred the tracks that were a little less cheesy than others but there plenty of depth to be found if you want to look. Enjoyable.
Recommended track: This Time Of Year
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