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Posted on January 1st, 2013 (8:00 am) by Matt Essert

Is it just me or is it a bit disappointing when an album’s best track is also its first? It might seem like a strange move — setting your own bar so high so early on in an album by opening with arguably your best track — but from what little I know of them, seri fana seems like the kind of band into strange moves.

seri fana, a small, unsigned four piece band of experimental indie-pop rockers, hails from Tampa, Florida, and seems pretty comfortable there, spending most of their time within the city limits. Although the band has been around for a while (they joined Facebook in June of ’09), Atlas, out in March ’12, marks their first and only, official release. Although seri fana has so far failed to make much of an impact outside Tampa, it’s certainly not for a lack of talent or quality music, which can easily be spotted throughout the seven tracks of Atlas. The various songs showcase seri fana’s experimentally pop mixture of straightforward instrumentation with heavily affected noises, often with a lot of both going on at any one moment. While one part of a song might only need singing and a simple guitar, other moments demonstrate seri fana’s impressive ability to layer a variety of sounds over and under each other for pieces of music challenging the listener to really pay attention to understand what’s going on — it’s not simple pop music, but it’s certainly something you can enjoy if you try.

This mixture of sounds extends quite far and often leads to somewhat puzzling results. All of the LP’s seven tracks are fairly hefty in both substance and length, but some of the especially longer songs (6:22, 7:15, and 9:25) might suffer from a slightly over-ambitious combining of sometimes-drawn-out musical ideas into one track when two or three separate tracks might have been a more successful path. The album’s last four tracks almost all seem to have separate “movements” within each song, and although each track’s respective movements work well enough with each other, based on their lengthy run-times, seri fana might have found more aural success (especially in the world of pop music) by breaking the tracks up and expanding on each musical ideas, instead producing an album of twelve-ish songs, each as self-contained ideas.

Again, I have to return to the notion seri fana isn’t a standard band. They’re not a conventional pop band, they are certainly experimental, and their musical and lyrical ideas are original and, when on the mark, quite beautiful. Consider “Fireflies” and its interweaving musical and lyrical lines (the latter about the simple beauty of watching their light-up bugs) conjuring up images of a night full of fireflies darting about, sometimes in chaos, but often in a beautiful wash of exciting music. The build-up over the last 1:30 of “Consolation” is a perfect example of seri fana’s ability to pull together what feels like totally different musical directions into a fascinating succinct slice of music. What about the pop/roc/hip-hop drum beat on “Oh my!,” which provides an expressive but steady background for the twinkling guitar runs?

However, these tracks generally fall short of the brilliance of the album’s opener, “Beggars.” It lays a simple base with a backwards sound and mixes in a variety of beautiful sounds, at once eerie and comforting, into a wall of music instantly capturing me. Compared to the rest of the album, it feels like a very cohesive idea in a single song. It vaguely reminded me of a more laid-back version of something like “Tomorrow Never Knows”, an exciting and somewhat dizzying mix of music coming out as something truly special.

Though some of the best bands ever have introduced themselves to the world with a truly explosive song (the first track on Led Zeppelin’s debut Led Zeppelin was the impossibly hard-rocking “Good Times, Bad Times”), it was somewhat disappointing “Beggars” was so much more enticing than what I found elsewhere on Atlas. However, this doesn’t mean the rest of the album isn’t worth a listen, just that “Beggars” is so good, and for such a young and fresh band, it’s certainly promising to know when all the pieces come together, seri fana can produce music like this.

Track List:
1. Beggars
2. Oh my!
3. Grapes (Appendix)
4. Fireflies
5. Consolation
6. Boethius’ Savior, Ungrateful Lovers
7. Atlas

seri fana, Atlas, review, album, cover, Tampa, pop, experiemental
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

78 / 100
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