Review : Fools Gold - Fools Gold
BbcWith 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....full text
MusicomhFor everything Vampire Weekend have given to popular culture - a new love for buttoned-down shirts, an increase in sales of Ralph Lauren, a deeper insight into English grammar and roof architecture - they have, through no direct fault of their own, made being influenced by African music almost a negative. Critics especially are sceptical of their motives and authenticity, questioning whether this cherry-picking of another culture isn't just a way of adding colour to an otherwise fairly simple rock pallete.
It's this slightly unnecessary argument that hovers over the debut album by LA-based 12-piece (!), Fool's Gold. Each of the eight tracks feature a nod to African musical culture, be it the rattling percussion, sunny guitar lines or use of assorted drums such as the djembe. Curiously, lead singer Luke Top performs all the songs in Hebrew, creating a strange clash of sounds that begins to work better as the album progresses.
In fact much of this debut improves as it goes on. Despite starting off like the Coco Pops jingle, opener Surprise Hotel has little to recommend it, its recurring percussive riff ambling on aimlessly. Nadine picks up the pace, with horn blasts peppering a racing groove that becomes hypnotic as opposed to meandering. Ha Dvash is one of a handful of tracks to make more than a slight nod in the direction of Talking Heads, complete with tightly-strung guitar riffs and even the odd David Byrne inflection in Top's slightly strangled croon....full text
GuardianVampire Weekend aren't the only band making African highlife music the unlikely heartbeat of indie pop. A Los Angeles 12-piece including former members of We Are Scientists and the Fall, Fool's Gold sound something like an Afrobeat Talking Heads. Where Vampire Weekend sound like indie musicians who have embraced African music, Fool's Gold's leader Lewis Pesacov grew up listening to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as well as US pop, and his band's uplifting sound vibrates with love and kinship with the continent's music. Their joyful grooves are stuffed with revolving guitar motifs and highlife drum patterns; Nadine has a sweet horn section to die for, although Momentary Shelter's harmonies are curiously reminiscent of Wham!'s Club Tropicana. With vocalist Luke Top singing mostly in Hebrew, he may well be singing about the difficulties of finding a camel in the Beverly Center, but his vocals have a transcendent feel, while the rhythms hit the feet....full text
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