Chico Fellini (s/t)

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cd_chico-fellini.jpgChico Fellini's self-titled debut is about feel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chico Fellini's self-titled debut is about feel. Lyrics are secondary; vocal delivery and sounds are everything.

The album's a delicious journey through indie rock into dancing and fast-paced beats...tasty enough, but the icing on the proverbial cake is Christopher Dennison's fluid vocals: yelping one minute, operatically falsetto the next. The post-punk gods have their grimy little hands all over these songs, though they've made friends with their theatric, Threepenny Opera-like muse.

Disc opener "Despite the Mix Up" is a galloping indie offering, delicious in its own right; when Dennison slides into falsetto, it puts you over the top. "Electrolyte" is a dark and dirty little dance number. Following an understated delivery, Dennison slides again into falsetto to ask, over an insinuating guitar line, "Whatcha 'fraid of?" "Can't Deny" slows it down a bit, recalling a street at night, lit by a single, garish streetlamp.

Nowhere is the sounds-over-words mentality more apparent than on "Hot" ("Well, you're hot/ hot hot hot hot/ and you're pretty/ pretty pretty pretty pretty"...you get the picture. It's a jittery song, made for freestyle dancing, full body, arms flailing. "Prelude," a tinkling of piano keys, gives way to "Down the Up Ladder," almost an old-school crooner. Though the song pulls hard at its leash, it's kept in check. The band is back to its darkly insinuating style on "Control"; here, though, the falsetto seems forced, over the top.

"No Strata" adheres closely to the post-punk sound: angling guitars, fast-paced drumbeats, vocals full of pomp and pose. Closing the too-short disc is "Uli," a restrained theatrical number, often stripped down to simply piano and vocals. It's a bit too slow and somber, turning up the lights before the party's ended. On the whole, though, Chico Fellini have crafted a release that's full of verve and style; definitely a band to keep your eye on. B+ | Laura Hamlett

RIYL: Talking Heads, Dresden Dolls

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