Poets write novels. Painters often sculpt. Actors direct. Engineers get into crafting. Sidestepping, moving from one world into an adjacent world, can spark something new. Meric Long, guitarist and vocalist of the (awesome) band the Dodos, took a break from his main project after the death of his father and the birth of his first kid. He inherited two synthesizers from his father, instruments that he had no experience with, and found himself playing around on those, writing songs and fragments here and there, which later coalesced into this project, FAN’s debut album, “Barton’s Den.”
Reviewing the first FAN singles, “Fire” and “Disappear,” last year, I mentioned that those songs displayed the same rough characteristics and shape of some Dodos songs, and that’s true for a lot of “Barton’s Den.” If you dig the Dodos, you will love this record—Meric Long has a great voice, and he’s a really good songwriter (good melodies, awesome sense of dynamics in his songs—they’re almost never boring, they’re always shifting and moving). Even if you’ve never heard the Dodos, this record is worth your time: it’s like Long’s sensibilities transposed into the sounds you’d expect to hear on a Handsome Furs or Of Montreal album.
“Barton’s Den” has hopeful and elegiac songs, and songs like “Velour,” more combative, kinetic, questioning (also features some neon-bright, arcing guitar lines from Long). The album feels a lot like a snapshot from a time in someone’s life: full of different moods and impulses, rendered in vivid music.