I’m always eager to learn about a band when their name gives a nod to a cultural or literary icon. Death Cab for Cutie, Titus Andronicus, Modest Mouse. And now Fialta.
It’s a reference to a fictional city in a Nabokov short story. The San Luis Obispo-based indie pop quartet is comprised of two married couples, and they’ve just dropped their sophomore album, Shadow of a Drought.
The twelve track record is spilling with California sunshine, incorporating light, poppy vocals, reverb-drenched guitars, airy ukulele strums and electronic synths. Representing a spectrum of west coast music, the album features diverse elements ranging from the surfy sounds of the Beach Boys to the power pop rhythms of new school Rooney.
Fialta Flaunts Varied Vocals and Instrumentation
Fialta jumpstarts Shadow of a Drought with the energetic opener “Be Someone.” After a 30 second offbeat instrumental rhythm and a few lively guitar licks, the chorus explodes, revealing echoing vocals reminiscent of French rockers Phoenix. Later incorporating heavily distorted guitar riffs and some glockenspiel notes for good measure, this song is a fun introduction to a thoughtful, yet generally feel-good record.
The second track, “Another Lonely Heart,” is powered by a consistent and catchy synth-driven beat. The song, which features a music video that premiered on Stereogum, also introduces the perfectly harmonized vocals of Beth Clements and Sarah Shotwell.
The band continues showcasing this versatility by shuffling between male and female led songs throughout the album. The two tones join together, however, to form somewhat of a dialogue on “Turn Your Head.” The opening whistles and chants, beachy guitar strums, jingling tambourine, and playful singing all culminate in this ultra-blissful track.
Throughout the record, Fialta mixes up the tempo, incorporating slowly droning anthems like the debut single, “Do the Best We Can,” (which, in honorable Mumford & Sons style, drops the album title in one of the lyrics) as well as lo-fi ballads like “On the Run.”
The playful guitar plucks to open “Burning on Empty” immediately remind me of the female fronted band London Grammar. In this song, Fialta achieves the careful balance of purring synths, echoing guitar riffs, and commanding vocals so often mastered by the British indie pop trio.
Track after track on this record, Fialta reinvents their own sound by layering offbeat rhythms, varying the instrumentation, and developing new vocal combinations and deliveries. It’s the perfect soundtrack for summertime.