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Fonda 500 | Spectrumatronicalogical Sounds (Gentle Electric)
As John Cusack wisely put it in 'High Fidelity', the art of making a good compilation should never be under-estimated [he might have heard that from the less credible Nick Hornby of course - Ed]. Unfortunately, Fonda 500 haven't been watching. At seventy-two minutes and thirty tracks, their latest "collection of songs you make when your heart is broken and so is your stereo" finds all semblance of quality-control slide right through the nearest exit. Here, for every hit, there's many misses, and it's sometimes so wide of any known mark so as to be completely off the scale. Yet somewhere amidst these short doodles, several unfunny 'gags', and a wilfully weird slant on that thing called tune, lie brief moments of beauty.
Through a rough fuzz of electro-pop and a childlike 'see what sticks' gusto, songs such as The All Over Lazio Country Sound, At The Shallow End Of The Zoo and particularly the buzzing Casio-crash of Avigeto leap out. At their best, Fonda 500 are the Flaming Lips, Pixies and Stereolab whacking it out in some grubby downstairs toilet. Which is a good thing, obviously. At their worst, their low-fidelity scratches almost force you to mail them several copies of 'High Fidelity' for closer inspection. For here, Fonda 500's eccentric compilation skills could certainly do with a little re-education. Middling GCSE rather than degree standard, alas.

Ian Fletcher
March-April 2004