Thursday, October 28, 2010

F&M: "Sincerely, F&M" (album review)

Husband and wife acts are a dodgy proposition.  More often than not they are overly sappy, sugar-coated, and awkward looks into relationships.  That's certainly not the case with Edmonton couple Rebecca and Ryan Anderson who perform under the name F&M.

It's not that F&M's new album Sincerely, F&M (out November 9th) is full of conflict and pain.  Rather than the uncritical all sunshine and roses that we often get, the duo's songs are back and forth, almost discussions of feelings and relationships.

On a musical level the Anderson's are an interesting pair.  Ryan is an indie rocker through and through, while Rebecca brings a classical training background to the show.  This contrast is most obvious in their vocals.  Rebecca's delivery tends to be in the dramatic chamber pop tradition, which juxtaposes beautifully with Ryan's earthy ruggedness.  That makes tracks like "Maybe Tomorrow", their cover of the theme song to the Canadian television staple The Littlest Hobo, sound akin to the best work of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan.

The arrangements are sophisticated pop at it's finest.  The plaintive guitar stroll of "Bell's Own Desire" has a timeless quality to it.  The Rebecca-sung "Swan Song Serenade" is an elegantly crooned piano number.  "The Singer Gets It Right" boasts the gravitas of a U2 song (think "All I Want Is You"), without any of the pomp and arrogance that goes along with it.

It may not be party music, but Sincerely, F&M is a solid choice for almost any other listening occasion.

F&M play Gallery 365 in Toronto on November 25th.

Best tracks: "Victoria", "Swan Song Serenade"

Track listing for Sincerely, F&M:
  • Lovely, Lovely
  • I Tripped, You Smiled
  • Victoria
  • Fame
  • Bell's Own Desire
  • The Singer Gets It Right
  • Swan Song Serenade
  • The Bent Mast
  • Maybe Tomorrow
  • This Winter Revisited
  • Walk To You
  • A Little Love Hymn
7.5/10
F&M's website

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