Looking for new music this new year? Lydia Popplewell reviews the debut EP of up-and-coming independent artist Faroe.
The solo debut EP for the lead singer of Concrete Knives certainly has something to say for itself among the expanse of electro-pop out there, due to the hauntingly enticing lyrics and unique building of soothing melodies and clicks. For those with a love of electronic sound reminiscent of Alt-J and minimalism like that of Laura Mvula or FKA Twigs, then Faroe’s Words is well worth a listen.
The first track on Words, “A lot Better Now” starts with a calming sound mix, interlacing keyboard riffs and electronic hums. Corentin Ollivier’s voice comes as a steady monotonous fixture linking all the sporadic pieces of sound together. His voice seems to constantly remain in a minor key that tends towards more crooning tonality that doubles itself regularly as the sounds intensify into the more abstract parts of the song. The best part of the song starts around 2.5 minutes in, when the voice dissipates leaving a Tove-Lo-mixed-with-James-Blake style ending of quick electronic percussion and soft calming whispers of voices floated along with soft guitar.
The singer’s French accent becomes apparent in “Heal” when his voice — which is pervaded by indistinct lyrics — sounds audibly flippant as if strung together on the spot. However this gives an interesting Euro-pop feel to the whole song. His almost robotic voice creates a distance from the audience which could banish the song into background music, were it not for its intriguing emotional ambiguity along with the life that emerges from the chorus. There are echoes of Joy Division in his melancholy pop style but without the clear rock rhythm and overtaken by omnipresent electronic glitches.
“Feel the need” takes off on its own course sticking out like a sore thumb, with its inventive structure and fleeting position on the track list at 2:50. The vocals are at their peak here with Corentin demonstrating his vocal range and also unique ability to connect pieces of sound that seem completely detached and not induce nausea.
The longest track “Quiet” is one of the best experiments into the framework for stylistic collaboration that electronic music provides. The soothing steady choral vocals wander through a sea of stripped down guitar strums with frequent but rhythmic punches of quipped percussion. The effect produces the most listenable track after “Heal” with a Bon Iver likability and a resonating quirkiness that remains surprisingly unpredictable even after a few listens.
“Blast” finishes off this electronic experimental indulgence with a dramatic beginning that builds into something more sinister. The body of the song seems to be missing a layer, which becomes filled with deep bass and watery guitar notes, but it feels almost too late for the song that gave such an alerting beginning indicating a build to something of more length and substance. The end does provide a very full, intense sound that could compensate for the stripped start, but mostly it is the vocals that are lacking in strength in terms of pronunciation and for letting notes fall into a more droning and unreachable sound.
Overall, the ‘confidence’ which Corentin hopes his listeners will find within this body of work is conveyed not only in his lyrics but in the controlled and careful building and stripping of layers that takes place within each song. The hypnotic nature is achieved through a dutiful balance of his clear winding vocals and atmospheric background hums that fade in and out of one another with the helpful timing of steady clicks and beats of percussion. With just the right amount of originality and experimentation combined with some familiar sounds from British electronic pop, Faroe’s Words could easily provide the soundtrack for a zoning in essay session or zoning out car ride.
Overall Rating: 3/5
Listen to the EP here