Review : FM Belfast - How to Make Friends
PopmattersRage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name Of” was exhumed in 2009 in more ways than one. There was the headlining attempt, devised through social networking, to have the song deny Simon Cowell’s X Factor winner the UK Christmas No. 1 spot. There was also that little known electro band that recast the riff-heavy protest song into the languid synth-funky “Lotus”. This latter happening goes part of the way to summing up FM Belfast. The Icelandic group may have an iconoclastic bone about them but mostly they are out to divulge some harmless fun. Even when bulked up with attitude (as when they say: “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” on “Lotus”), they affect a camp detachment through a mix of cartoonish and robotic vocals. And with a party bag full of ‘80s synthesizer tricks, little suggests they are out to be taken seriously.
But if you’re like me and you think ‘80s Dance-Pop 2.0 has nearly had its day, then FM Belfast’s debut How to Make Friends will sound not just frivolous but tired. To be fair, the album enjoyed its first release in Iceland back in 2008 when listeners were hot on the likes of Hercules and Love Affair and awaiting La Roux. In any case, to say that FM Belfast have built themselves a pigeon hole because they peddle something as voguish as Day-Glo stirrup pants is to miss the point. FM Belfast were always a live band before they were a studio one. The perimeters of the group are, in fact, defined by whoever is available to play at a gig (which can range up to eight). Its principle entertainment value has come off the back of the cheeky camaraderie between lead singers Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir as they bounce around on stage, commanding their mics with all the finesse of a karaoke session. In other words, FM Belfast are around to have fun and to throw damn good parties, rather than be studious at their craft. Should ‘80s dance-pop lose its groove, there is little reason to suggest the band cannot reinvent their taste for amusement in the guise of some other dance genre that comes their way. Chillwave anyone?...full text
Musicomh"We come from a place where we count the days / Until nothing, until nothing, until nothing". So opens the second track on FM Belfast's debut album, the gloriously unhinged How To Make Friends. Later, in the same track, they continue their frustration: "Because nothing ever happens here / Where everyone keeps off the grass / No littering / No littering". It's a far cry from the image projected by Iceland as a country of great beauty, of natural wonder and with a flourishing cultural landscape. But FM Belfast don't represent Iceland, certainly not in terms of the music they make.
How To Make Friends isn't loaded with sweeping, sky-scraping string sections that represent the violence of nature, nor is it made of crunching beats to display the Icelandic sense of independence. Instead, it's an album that grew by accident after founding members Arni R Hlodversson and Loa H Hjalmtysdottir made a couple of tracks for a friend for Christmas back in 2005. This idea of DIY runs throughout the album, with processed beats and what sound like toy keyboards forming the musical backbone of all 11 tracks.
The band have since expanded to a four-piece, but live their numbers can range anywhere from four to 45, with various friends (including Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason from compatriots múm) joining in on percussion. It's this sense of fun that permeates the album, from the lyrics ("We are running down the street in our underwear") to the musical flourishes. Opener Frequency utilises a high-pitched noise akin to a life support machine, before being replaced by an elastic bassline that underpins the fantastically mundane sentiments: "Put down the glass baby / You're the designated driver". VHS uses skittering beats to create a wonderfully dated sound that is, of course, now very much back in favour....full text
BoomboomchikFM Belfast are set to release their debut album, How to Make Friends, on January 22nd. We heard the first single from the the album, Par Avion, back in October and we were excited to see what else they could do. Well, after listening to the album, all I have are mixed feelings about it.
Their sound, is a very chill, laidback, non conventional electro-indie-pop. Not too many dance floor tracks, but more of “sit back and take the day in” type of tracks. At times it reminded me, in style at least, of bands like Yacht or LCD Soundsystem– simple groovin’ music with spoken word/sort of singing lyrics.
What I really enjoyed from this album were the vocals . FM Belfast utilized two voices, a boy and a girl (Árni Plúseinn and Lóa who are the original members) and it makes for great dynamics in their songs. The harmonies between the 2 vocalist are also spot on and the variation adds depth to the the simplistic music underneath it. The other thing I enjoyed was the content of their lyrics. There was no love/sappy lyrics on this album, just songs about everyday experiences of life. There is a song about underwear, being president, VHS tapes, as well as an awesome cover of “Pump Up the Jam” which was the very first track they made together as a Christmas present for their friends (def check that one out, you will be quite amazed)...full text
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