folchenPart I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made

(venuszine) The argument could be made that Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made is a fleeting reference to the morose Nabokov character, but the allusion is quick, and playfully smothered by whimsical, navel-gazing party tracks with risky vocal overlays. Opener “The Believers” offers up a raucous credo of vice and indifference, a broken chorus of twenty-somethings shrugging off responsibility while searching for meaning.

Techno-fab “No Wedding Cake,” an apology to an ex-lover, slides by on catchy ‘80s-style hooks; the languid romance of “You and Your Sisters In Jericho” gives thoughtful pause; and “The Idiot” is the lineup’s weakest — too nudging a throwback to lesser New Wave. But then comes the flagship “Cable TV,” a poolside ballad that manages to be both danceable and mellow, a surprisingly sweet appeal to a lover to get away for a while.

In what could have been a brave experiment gone horribly wrong, the ragtag stylings, samplings, and influences of Fol Chen create a tight ensemble — not only of performers, but of song genres. The album isn’t an identity crisis so much as a pre-made mixtape.

originally published Mar 1 2009

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