Fol Chen Part II: The New December

Fol Chen Part II: The New December
The time is finally right for Fol Chen. Their smart, enigmatic music has been turning heads since the release of their debut, Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made, last year and now Part II: The New December will keep that momentum alive, even if the band go out of their way to remain mysterious ― check out their website for evidence of their cryptic persona. Of course, it does help that they've been mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Hot Chip and the XX, although those comparisons might be more relevant to their many impressive remixes more than their original material, which has plenty of charm. Part II: The New December is, naturally, a concept album with a narrative thread that has something to do with a virus destroying language, but thankfully, the songs work in isolation. The music is jittery and glitchy, leaning heavily on electronics to drive them along, like a less frantic version of the Mae Shi. The arrangements aren't always cluttered, but there's no attempt to pull back from that busyness either until the final, contemplative title track arrives. There's no shortage of quirkiness and pretension on display, but because Fol Chen encase their foibles in such a pretty shell, Part II: The New December is an easier album to like than it should be. But next time, they'd be wise to get by on the strength of the music and abandon the elaborate storylines. (Asthmatic Kitty)