Fufanu have been making some pretty strong waves in the music industry for a while now. Singles like Circus Life and Your Collection have set them oceans apart from the rest of the alt-rock scene, with their electro-bolstered industrial swagger unmistakable. Even Blur/Gorillaz frontman and general musical busybody Damon Albarn has seen their charm.
So with the winds of hype in their sails, Fufanu’s debut album Few More Days To Go sees the band deciding that playing it safe isn’t for them. This hardly comes as a surprise: their sound is anything but ‘playing it safe’. And Fufanu don’t waste any time in establishing themselves as a musically amorphous gel of viscous basslines and sharp synths.
Album opener Now might fit to whatever you may have been expecting of Fufanu: it’s a doomed grind with fleeting moments of optimism and hope. Musically it’s right in line with their previous singles without feeling bland or generic. Which sets a good tone, for about 20 minutes or so. It’s then that Fufanu really start to set sail for unknown shores.
This has generally positive results, other than the underwhelming (and climactically irritating) whir of Blinking which doesn’t feel like a comfortable fit. But Ballerina In The Rain captures more blistering guitar tones than the band usually dare to exhibit: rather than letting it sit in the backdrop and set an atmospheric tone, it’s burning in the limelight.
Easing into the ethereal cynicism of Plastic People, it feels like Fufanu have found the right balance between boundary expansion and their signature sound. For what could be perceived as such a big leap of faith, the transition feels almost seamless. Even the conflicting lyrical themes (the loved-up positivity of Ballerina… definitely didn’t last long, as hope is gone here) don’t drive up too much of an issue.
The close of the album is equally remarkable. The final track tends to be the one to leave a lasting impression, so Fufanu took the risk of making that track the most different on the release. It pays off beautifully.
It’s the closest Fufanu get to embracing a traditionally post-rock approach and it feels almost mainstream at times. But they don’t let go of the intensity and doomed distortion that is their signature. The end result? Something that feels like Rammstein discovering they’ve got a fondness and talent for shoegaze.
In the rough seas of very alternative music, Fufanu have managed to hold their own and not let the waves drift them back to the rest of the fleet. Not only have they established their own sound but they’ve already demonstrated an ability to think outside of that.
Part of the challenge any band faces is the question of longevity: how long can they keep the music coming without either a complete audio revamp or it getting stale. The miracle is that Fufanu’s debut sets them up as an act with at least five more albums ahead of them before this even becomes a risk.