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Fonda 500 | Number 1 Hi-Fi Hair (Truck Records/The Village)
Fonda 500 recall the best days of summer. On Bumble A, Bumble B..., a mini-orchestra of recorders, glockenspiels and softly strummed acoustic guitar create amateur polyphonics that are only just out of key. Oddly enough, that's the allure. Oozing with unfettered, happy-go-lucky innocence, it's redolent of a rose-tinted era of childhood. Like when you came home from school in blazing sunshine, and your mum would be making your tea while you played out with your best friend down the street. I can't decide whether it's the song or the memory it triggers that makes me smile. Probably both. Art-school doodles adorn the inner sleeve â?? always an ominously good start in my book. There are lots of styles to wade through in this cut and paste extravaganza â?? the Japanese style sugar-pop of Animal Of Airs reminds me of Cornelius; the diverse miscellany of the Shifty Disco label is strewn throughout; Brian Wilson's more stewed harmonies are filtered through the Super Furry Animals; The Colours And The Birdsongs... mimics the sort of pastoral montages that Gorky's might produce. Come to think of it, so does a lot of this stuff. The trouble is that Fonda 500's effervescent ideas and messy harmonies (delectable as they are) fall short of the finished article. Much like earlier album 'The Autumn:Winter Collection', some of these beautiful melodies fade into limbo too quickly - we get almost a minute of stylus noise at the end of The Mexican Swimathon, and a whole 1 minute and 24 seconds of it on Why Context Is Essential To Us.... Context? Essential? Arse - the most generous cynic would tell you that it's nothing more than cheap filler. Even the chin-stroking musos amongst us would surely class that as lazy. Mind you, such self-indulgent types would probably opine over the aesthetic of a pile of bricks, given half a chance. Essentially, this is an under-rehearsed Emerson, Lake & Palmer pastiche played on children's instruments from Woolworths. Despite the faults, Fonda 500's songs work because they're compulsive and immediate. A short, sharp hit. Now all they need to do is something inventive with the off cuts.
Velimir Pavle Ilic
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002