Part II: The New December Image
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 9 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Fol Chen continues to embrace mystery and avoid the obvious on Part II: The New December. As on Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, the enigmatic band makes a virtue out of indirectness, sending songs through secret passages and tunnels that end in hooks some distance from where theyFol Chen continues to embrace mystery and avoid the obvious on Part II: The New December. As on Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, the enigmatic band makes a virtue out of indirectness, sending songs through secret passages and tunnels that end in hooks some distance from where they were expected. There’s a strong experimental streak in the brainy way Fol Chen takes what seems like a straightforward idea and twists it into something completely different; like the Dirty Projectors, the group flirts with and subverts mainstream pop ideas, and like labelmates Cryptacize, they’ve got a flair for the deceptively simple. The band goes even further down the rabbit hole than on Part I, beginning The New December with some of its strangest music. “In Ruins” contrasts deep, whispered vocals with lively girlish ones atop busy keyboards playing busy, vaguely Eastern-tinged melodies; “Your Curtain Call” begins with breathy beats and woozy flutes, expanding into bells and a drunken sax solo before pulling back again; and “Men, Houses or Beasts” tiptoes so slowly that it almost sounds like it was recorded at the wrong speed. Fittingly for a band so committed to disguising its identity, some of The New December’s best songs deal with miscommunication and missed connections. On “The Holograms,” a tale of forgotten names and words doubling into optical illusions, bounces along on one of the album’s catchiest melodies, while the excellent “C/U” keeps its lovers apart despite its almost perversely straightforward beat. Likewise, the band buries some of its best songs on the album’s second half: “Adeline (You Always Look so Bored)”’s sharp-tongued chamber pop recalls St. Vincent’s abundant musical and lyrical wit, and “They Came to Me” boasts rubbery beats that are just as danceable as they are strange, and could be heard at a club with a trampoline for a dancefloor. How exactly these songs fit together with “Holes”’ delicate plucking and the title track’s pixelated folk might be locked in Fol Chen’s brains, but even if there are more pieces of their puzzle-pop missing here than there were on John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, The New December is never boring. ~ Heather Phares Expand
  • Record Label: Asthmatic Kitty Records
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. 90
    There are points during the disc when you wish the rollercoaster would relent, but that is beside the point: Fol Chen are pop experimentalists, deft song-writers and immaculate producers who have a lot to say – so hang on!
  2. Whether or not Part II: The New December is steadied and readied as an opportunity to cash in on winning success (they were featured in everything ranging as far as NPR and a video collaboration with the Laker Girls), this is another great compression of darkly layered pop and stellar IDM.
  3. How exactly these songs fit together with "Holes"' delicate plucking and the title track's pixelated folk might be locked in Fol Chen's brains, but even if there are more pieces of their puzzle-pop missing here than there were on John Shade, Your Fortune's Made, The New December is never boring.
  4. 74
    Fol Chen proves it's capable of being quietly understated in addition to wonderfully frenetic. [Spring/Summer 2010, p.113]
  5. Although genre-jumping bands who employ "electro" elements to their approach seem to stick around for a shorter period than those who do not, Fol Chen certainly show signs of brightness.
  6. Had Fol Chen made good on those early impulses to really boost The New December's kinky eccentricities, it wouldn't have been much of a surprise to find it making serious inroads with new listeners. Though it ultimately only warrants selective revisiting.
  7. The results can be attractive, scatterbrained, and pleasantly inebriating. [Spring 2010, p.63]

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Score distribution:
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  2. Mixed: 0 out of
  3. Negative: 0 out of