Fablecar just burst onto the indie music scene with their debut, self-titled album, entering an ever-growing group of indie rockers who are defined primarily by their sense of history. Throughout Fablecar's generous run time, there are elements that remind one, in turn, of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Muse, The Killers, Echo and the Bunnymen, Cage the Elephant and more.
Lead singer Mitch Elliott's voice will win no awards for range, but he has an impassioned throaty quality that definitely invokes Bowie or Roger Waters in their prime, especially in the faux-twee Poppies and Spice, swooping and growling and weaving his way through their songs.
While the guitar and drum work is certainly competent, this is primarily Elliott's show, along with rich and varied production that – like the rest of the album – seems to run the gamut of styles. From the fun trance beats of Sunday Before, to the moody, nearly Cabaret dark piano in Proffer, each song is crafted to stand on its own.
A running series of production tricks, such as mixing in barely-audible vocals throughout (a clear Dark Side homage) give the album some measure of cohesion, even as it veers haphazardly from one musical idea to the next. They've crafted a record that's full of surprises, even if one occasionally wishes they'd slow down and explore their material in more depth.
In the end, Fablecar's strengths are also their weakness. Their uncanny ability to blend some of the best bits of rock from the past four decades into an original melange gives them a lot of inherent appeal: no matter what kinds of rock you prefer, Fablecar probably has something you'll enjoy.
Unfortunately, by wearing their influences on their sleeve, what Fablecar fails to convey is Fablecar. Unlike similar retro-influenced bands like Asteroids Galaxy Tour, or Django Django, or even fun., they lack an identity that's distinct from the sum of their components.
These young musicians have a load of talent, and an excellent grounding in what makes rock such an enduring art form. For indie rock music fans, it's an easy purchase. They're definitely a group to watch out for and, if they can find a way to carve out their own musical identity from their mountain of influences, they could be on their way to real stardom.