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Fondness Western Approaches

New art-pop trio from Sheffield combine vocal harmonies, mellifluous guitars and airy synths on an uplifting EP that's an antidote to lockdown gloom.

Released: 1 February 2021
Western Approaches

It would have been easy in these (cliche alert!) unprecedented times to write a bunch of songs reflective of the ongoing pandemic (i.e. a main course of dystopia accompanied with a side-order of despair). So, it's metaphorical cap doffed to new Sheffield-based art-pop group Fondness (Tom Darwent, Beau Foletti and musical guide and long-term pal Robin Downe) for releasing an EP so positively uplifting, it smiles at you.

The staccato riffs and tumbling synths of the instrumental ‘Enlightenment Tomorrow’ set the musical tone, while title track ‘Western Approaches’ – the most "poppy" on the EP – offsets light-touch harmonies with a thoughtful lyric, "although the evening is getting cold, my anguish is heating”.

There’s a prog vibe to the eponymous ‘Fondness’, with the line "you shouldn't try to grow an equilibrium in old soil" accompanying jangly guitars, nineties synths and an unusual guitar feedback coda to make a great single. The excellent closer ‘Faster than a Horse on Heat’, with its jittery drums and breathy harmonies, casts a narrative nod to Elbow, underpinned by a choppy guitar rhythm channelling seventies Genesis’ 'Follow You Follow Me' (ask your dad).

Western Approaches is an impressive inaugural offering from a band not short of ideas, so much so that it's no surprise that there's another EP slated for mid-2021. One thing’s for sure: Tom, Beau and Robin certainly have the ability to create their own 'unprecedented times' – and that’s no cliché.

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