An album in love with life, and a document of pulling it into focus.
Matthew Horton 2010-01-11
Fyfe Dangerfield is so obviously the chief creative force behind his band, Guillemots, you wonder what he plans to achieve with a solo foray. Doesn’t he have enough control already? Yet Fly Yellow Moon shows he’s kept something back for himself.
This album doesn’t bristle with the sonic daring of Dangerfield’s usual work; instead, it offers love songs, largely unadorned with stylistic quirks or brash arrangements, a document of a life pulling into focus. It takes time out from Guillemots’ passionate rush to have a look around.
Mostly recorded in one happy bundle at the end of 2008, Dangerfield’s solo debut gathers together the flotsam of songs thought up in stolen moments around the release and tour of Guillemots’ second album, Red. Where that album paraded the band’s new muscle – hearty pop songs turned into stomping monsters – Fly Yellow Moon takes the quieter route: still love struck, but muted and more austere.
That said, opener When You Walk in the Room storms in with fuzzy bashed drums and a screech. Dangerfield’s still the romantic – “I want you endlessly” – he just demonstrates it with vamping Supergrass piano and Tom Waits clanks. It’s a cracker, but hardly sets the tone.
No, we’re in a world of strummed acoustics, yearning strings and, most resonant, Beatles balladry: So Brand New’s didactic vocal and 60s swing is very Help!-era Fabs, while the ghost of George Harrison lends keening slide guitar to the pretty chantey High on the Tide. It’s testament to Dangerfield’s rich melodic gifts that these don’t suggest pastiche.
Everything comes with a smile. Livewire’s delicately bouncy piano brings hope to a teary tribute – “We’ve got everything to play for / 1-1, half-time” – and Don’t Be Shy’s lessons in love are pepped up by Spanish guitar, traces of regret plucked away.
It’s an album in love with life, She Needs Me particularly brimming with vigour (and propulsive disco strings). Here Dangerfield declares, “This is where I want to be,” and perhaps he does – it’s the most ‘Guillemots’ track here – but he’s said this is a set of songs that do not fit with where his band is going next. They must be cooking up something special, because this one’s a treat.