Faunts: M4

[27 February 2008]

By Dominic Umile

Contributing Editor

The struggle for “That Which Is Most Dramatic” between instrumentation and vocals on Faunts’s M4 EP is a compelling one because there doesn’t seem to be a definite winner when the whole thing is over. This is no accident: the 40 minutes of music on M4, a follow-up to 2005’s High Expectations/Low Results, were originally strung together to fit the backdrop of three independent silent films. With or without this background tidbit in mind, Faunts carry out a worthy stab at scoring onscreen melancholy in their five songs, with lush compositions and a tendency to rely on the ol’ “build n’ release.”

Woozy synth washes on Faunts’s M4 lead the Canadian quintet to wander off on Slowdive-styled comedown trips as often as Ulrich Schnauss does. Granted, speedily picked, muted guitar isn’t exactly a characteristic shared by the shoegazer bands; “M4 (Part II)‘s” pronounced leads are far better suited to the sci-fi theatrics generated by the video game Mass Effect, growing louder and more shrill as the tension builds. But the strained calls for help in the track’s textured crests, backed in hi-hats and grim keyboard melodies, have thankfully nothing to do with battling alien robots, and lend to a memorably gripping mood for the opening track. The strength is in this control - the winding elements and backward-rolling programmed beats (check the hypnotic “Sleepwalker”) hint often at the possibility of a slump into the misdirected, rehearsal-type excessiveness of “Meno Mony Falls”. Outside of those nearly-six moments, though, M4 harbors some fit-for-film potential that stays above water, even if it sounds like we’re nearly drowning.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/faunts-m4/