Forge – Fassine  (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

In an ideal world, the release of a new Fassine album would be something which brings the whole country together, like a new series of Love Island or the hunt of a serial killer. And to be fair, given their increasing popularity with each release, they will probably get there. But for now they are still a band that the underground aficionado can revel in, a badge of honour to display their ahead-of-the-curve-ness and a signal their exceedingly discerning taste. In short, people who listen to Fassine are just better than people who don’t, it’s as simple as that.

It has always been impossible to pigeon-hole Fassine, not that we really need to but for the purposes of a review it does help if you can introduce a few shortcuts to speed the process along and give the reader something to form their thoughts around. They employ dancey grooves, but I wouldn’t exactly call it dance, there is a strange, hazy ethereality to it without it being dream-pop as such and there is a cold-edged vibe at times but it has more substance than your average chill wave sound. Alt-pop? Who knows? Actually, who cares? Fassine are one of those bands which just show up the limitations of genres and labels.

There are some songs within which are pure pop, such as the gorgeous and graceful Magpie, though it is certainly pop which dances to the beat of the band’s own particular drum, and does so seductively. At the other extreme tracks such as Migraine are more like ambient film scores. Max is a beguiling blend of primal sonics, tumbling beats and half heard voices, siting somewhere between celestial choirs and brooding demonic and Bloom sees them at their most dynamic blending searing guitars and industrial shards of music with understated lulls switching between the two abruptly and almost randomly as the mood seems to take them.

As the sharp end of a back catalogue of album and single releases which both raise the benchmark and widen the sonic palette with each outing, Forge both kicks arse and cuts the mustard. So go ahead, join the smart set, be a better you, start listening to Fassine today, a new life awaits you…or something. I think I may have pushed that line of hyperbole to breaking point. Sorry.

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