A Haunting, Moody Blues
Left Here Alone is a fitting name for the fifth studio album from the Canadian quintet Faunts. While Left Here Alone contains only four songs, these tracks are long and rich, textured, and almost cinematic in their haunting, subdued melancholia.
Faunts, headed by brothers and vocalists Steven and Tim Batke, evokes a landscape of solitude, a landscape vast and empty in “Alarmed.” You can almost imagine the band playing in the cold mountains of Alberta, the ominous sound of distorted guitar tones and vocals soft and echoing. It begins with the abstract static of distortion, soon joined by a warm, clean-toned guitar playing short bursts of notes. The spare elements of “Alarmed” only serve to make each sound more poignant as the song builds and builds, eventually fading back into its quiet beginnings.
All of Left Here Alone sounds like this, although its tones differ subtly. “What I’d Love to Hear You Say” features the same warm acoustic guitar playing a sweet, arpeggio melody over light percussion and a big, sweeping electric guitar rising and falling in intervals. The song is almost upbeat, with layers of guitar melodies repeating and playing into and around each other, harmonizing with Steve Batke’s soft crooning.
The third track, “Stay a While,” lacks some of the initial power of “Alarmed” or “What I’d Love to Hear You Say.” It’s more atmospheric, slower, and the vocals seem to drone on about the end of a relationship to the accompaniment of somewhat overly sentimental piano. But what it lacks in the beginning, “Stay a While” picks back up as it builds, adding on a muted trumpet and swapping the ballad chords for a simple, treble piano melody for the finishing touch.
Perhaps the centerpiece of Left Here Alone is its dreamy title track, which concludes the album. Like most things Faunts does, it’s quiet and subtle, with bare, muted percussion. It’s a slow, ghostly waltz, mimicking the swaying of a ship lost at sea, far from any coast, where, as Batke tells us, “Silence is all that we hear.” Faunts excels at creating beautiful, evocative soundscapes like those on Left Here Alone, but it would be great to see the band apply its considerable songwriting talents to other genres and other landscapes.