The queue on Saturday night snakes out of Buffalo Bar well into Highbury Corner, suggesting Fanfarlo have outgrown the venue like a guilt-ridden post-Christmas binger in a tight pair of trousers. Recently back from Connecticut brandishing a newly recorded debut album, the band bring home their deft, summery understatements to an sugary indie audience defying the January detox and probably still doing their GCSEs.
Support is strong: the Laurel Collective sound like a fuzzed out Franz, if they’d been born in 2009 and not the last decade. Up to the minute synths add to the glam, flawless sound, although the two bouncing frontmen without instruments - accomplished as they are - do give a slightly unfortunate GLC feel to the assemblage. Honeytrap could go far, providing they don’t combust from their own self-confidence and multiple style overload, offering some on-it fiddle skills, ska undertones and a Jarvis-esque frontman in a mean cardigan.
Fanfarlo don’t exactly fit into the space carved out by their geed up predecessors tonight, but after a bit of acclimatising, it’s easy to zone into the intelligent loveliness provided by the band. Simon Aurell’s fluid vocals are not unlike Zac Condon’s, and indeed some of the material is pure Beirut. The understated sound often flows into a grander river-wide landscape, peppered with brass and strong violins. There must be seams here somewhere but if there are, you can’t see them - everything is tight and soaring and as melodic as the Fleet Foxes. Fanfarlo share some of the pastoral feel with the latter - they aren’t so harmony-heavy and have a much neater sound, but you still might well want to skip through a field of soft-focus daisies after an extended listen. Some bands this uplifting end up having the opposite effect and make you want to throw their saccharine-doused amplifiers in the Thames, but Fanfarlo never seep into the la-la-la loaded of the super twee, quietly doing their thing, and doing it better than those who are shouting about it.
Fanfarlo play again on Valentine’s night in Kings Cross, so if you want to avoid those awkward 14th February overpriced restaurant moments where you wonder whether you’re having as good a time as the couple on the table next to you, there’ll be a heart-shaped box full of reasons to fall in love at the Lexington.
Image from Sam Ford's photostream under the Creative Commons Licence.