Late But Great: Turntable Films Parables Of Fe-Fum

Parables Of Fe-Fum saw release back in February, but I didn’t get my hands on a physical copy of the mini-album until after Turntable Films performance at the Nara Street Style Festival. Well worth the wait – this album finds an extremely talented young band hitting their stride, and penning some excellent tracks more experienced groups could only dream of stumbling on.

Though this quartet could easily be lumped into the folk-pop genre – yeah, they sound like Fleet Foxes at times – Parables biggest strength lies in how the band manages to take inspiration from a wide arrange of styles and bring it all together into one excellent package. The bells and background “ooh-oohs” push the chug of “Won’t Let You Down” to pretty heights, while the slowly unfolding “Where Is My Little Heart” features similar twee elements that help the song from becoming to folksy. The biggest genre-turn, though, comes on “Welcome To Me,” which should serve as a pretty convincing audition for an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. It’s a straight up country charge, and a convincing one at that.

The best moments on this album come early on though, the first two tracks being among the finest stuff put out by anyone in Japan in 2010. Opener “Hot Tea After The Lunch” begs you to label it as “Wilsonian pop,” the big Beach Boys-aping breakdown giving you all the evidence needed. And it definitely is worthy of such a tag, but not for the obvious reasons – “Hot Tea” is just a wonderfully pieced together pop specimen, the main guitar line sounding as effortless as a walk in the park but the perfect compliment to the horns blasting through. Every second here gets used as it should…and yeah, especially the Beach Boys-aping breakdown.

Then there’s “2steps.” It’s easy to picture a young band stumbling onto something like “Hot Tea” – a lot of rookies HAVE mined 60’s pop for inspiration and hit on a hype-worthy single. But “2steps” is an entirely beast from the first drum hits. It’s urgent folk pop…indie-pop that grew a backbone making them stand a little taller…that finds every member of Turntable Films upping their game a bit. Specific praise goes to Yosuke Inoue singing, which sounds a touch more confident, and drummer who Tamura Natsuki who owns the song courtesy of his get-in-line beat. This isn’t just an excellent piece of songcraft or obvious single material…which, hey just came out on vinyl…but all the proof you need to throw faith into this quartet.

Parables certainly makes one excited for the future of Turntable Films, but does so all while standing strong as a great mini-album in it’s own right. If this review comes off as a bit too gooey, all praise featuring nothing but synonyms for good, that’s because it’s hard to be critical of this band. This album, albeit a very short one, has no filler, and the highs offer such excitement trying to gloss them up with clever similes or adjectives seems pointless. Just listen to “2steps” and try not to wonder how a band formed in 2008, only on album two (errr, 1.5) could come up with that. It’s damn exciting. So yes, keep an eye on these guys and where they’ll go next. Just don’t forget to give them a spin in the present as well.

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