This debut album belies its makers’ name by being a genuine gem.
Paul Clarke 2010-01-18
With Vampire Weekend, Damon Albarn and The Ruby Suns all heading in a similar direction to Fool’s Gold, the pan-global pop highway has become increasingly busy recently. But where their fellow travellers try to squeeze international sounds into the constraints of standard pop songs, this Los Angeles collective seemingly have more in common with the African traffic coming the other way. Much like Fela Kuti’s reinvention of American funk as afrobeat, or Tinariwen’s Led Zeppelin-influenced desert blues, Fool’s Gold stretch Western pop templates out into African shapes; and this debut album belies their name by being a genuine gem.
The group themselves are equally as freeform and far-flung as their sound. Bulwarked around the core duo of vocalist and bassist Luke Top and guitarist Lewis Pesacov, Fool’s Gold also includes fellow inhabitants of the LA scene such as former We Are Scientists drummer Michael Tapper, alongside members from Mexico and Argentina. Top himself is Israeli by birth, and his decision to sing largely in Hebrew adds another exotic element to the whirling dervish of guitars, synths, African percussion and Arabian choirs that is Poseidon.
Yet although Fool’s Gold clearly look east for many of their inspirations, songs like Ha Dvash are also rooted in the West Coast of America; the guitars recalling the nimbly strung-out soloing of The Byrds or the Grateful Dead as much as they do Ghanaian high-life or Congolese rhumba. But no matter which way they’re blowing, Fool’s Gold create a breezy sound as refreshing as the wind in your hair when riding on a pick-up truck through either the deserts of Africa or the States.
Indeed, from the sunny six-string licks that open Surprise Hotel through Nadine’s joyous horns and Momentary Shelter’s percussive swansong, Fool’s Gold feel like a welcome breath of fresh air even gusting from your car stereo in a suburban traffic jam.