I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the new Fol Chen album, Part II: The New December, trying to decide what I thought of it. Their first album, Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, was one of my favorite albums of 2009. It’s a quirky little album that is musically interesting with lots of pops and glitches and a tinge of pop-ish self-deprecation that you don’t normally see.
While Part II shares many similarities in style to Part I, to me it lacks the most of the whimsy that permeated the first album. Overall, Part II is more polished than their previous album, the songs have more structure, and generally don’t sound like they could fall apart at any moment. In that sense it’s typical of most sophomore releases. They also seemed to have broadened stylistically, venturing closer to safe/traditional indie pop territory with tracks like The New December. I can’t say whether Part II will have the same staying power on my playlist that Fol Chen’s first album did, but it is still an excellent album in it’s own right. The best comparison I can make is it’s a little bit of The Cardigans and a little bit Dirty Projectors.
Part II: The New December comes out on June 22 from Asthmatic Kitty, and is definitely worth picking up for fans of avant pop.
EDIT | January 23, 2013
Well, time has told the tale. While I do enjoy Part I more, this album has stayed in regular-ish rotation over the past few years. Good on them!