THERE ARE MOMENTS OF TRANSCENDANCE ON TELL WHERE I LIE – FOSSIL COLLECTIVE’S DEBUT ALBUM (RELEASED 8TH APRIL) – WHEN THE MOST APPARENT INFLUENCES ADD TO MAKE A SUM GREATER THAN THE PARTS.
The songwriting references the long passed classic eras of Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young and Simon & Garfunkel yet, like paleontologists reassembling an assortment of bones belonging to something distantly extinct in a charming approximation of what they presume it to have been, David Fendick and Jonny Hooker – both hugely talented multi-instrumentalist ex-alumni of mid-to-late noughties cult band Vib Gyor – have made something which manages to both tease with the familiar and tantalise with the not quite known.
Once the signature sound of debut single LET IT GO (The Mouth Magazine Sessions version below) has gone, Fossil Collective set about crafting subtle variants. That is: a marriage of mesmerising harmony vocals to a drifting or driving acoustic-based sound. This pastoral blend means that despite moments of profound sadness, TELL WHERE I LIE can also be subtly exhilarating: the backing seemingly grown in the great outdoors, in a secret place where the air is fresh, the vocals reaching skywards from a place with the horizon in full view – a place where, ultimately, there is hope.
Fendick and Hooker clearly soak in the high moisture content of everything they hear – BROTHER, with its WISH YOU WERE HERE melody line fused to moments of brass that seem to have fallen straight off the blade of THE FINAL CUT, could be the best song Pink Floyd never wrote. UNDER MY ARREST, subtle but shore-reaching experimental sonics layered over an almost horizontal melancholy float, is followed by BOY WITH BLACKBIRD KITE, the sound of what might have happened if PLASTIC ONO BAND-era Lennon had managed to loosen up a notch or three, while new single WOLVES furthers the line of urgent (or as urgent as Fossil Collective get) templates set down by the debut single and its follow-up ON AND ON. HOW WAS I TO KNOW appears to have been recorded live in one take, as it was written and probably by a fireside – Hooker’s ukulele arpeggios, sparse melody lines picked out on piano and gentle plaintive vocals from Fendick all the more intimate for the occasional imperfection.
MONUMENT is a ghostly comma of grief. Half way through, everything drops out save for a hauntingly distant piano motif and shimmers of backwards guitar, the whole album seeming to pause in the space between the spaces Fendick and Hooker have created. The pair are masters of this – finding the corners of vision, just beyond vividity. The songs on TELL WHERE I LIE flicker about like animated Instagram photographs of the moments they reflect: colours fading out or bleeding through or burning up, both details and edges blurring. It’s an astonishing debut: fragile, strong and, in both, awe-inspiring.