Paul Dixon, it seems, is never really comfortable. Dixon, a 23-year-old Londoner, has recently been linked to the ‘Fyfe’ project (pronounced, I believe, as a young toddler might pronounce ‘Feist’) but hasn’t been exactly forthcoming when it comes to embracing the public. To be fair, Dixon has had one popular outing, running from 2010 thru early 2012 when he used the guise of David’s Lyre to capture critical acclaim, figured as one of The Guardian’s ‘new band of the day‘ and generally whet the appetite of labels and consumers across the pond. Drawing comparisons to Patrick Wolf for his electro-folk offering, David’s Lyre signed a major label deal in 2010 which Dixon opted out of at the end of the next year and went about releasing a well-received EP and album on his lonesome. Even when his debut single ‘Tear Them Down‘ caught on, Dixon shielded his face in that song’s video with a mask and used other masked characters in his stead to front up to the camera in parts. Fame in the 21st century is a dirty, hungry beast and Dixon, as David’s Lyre at least, chose to dodge the potential as nimbly as possible. The notion of hiding in the popular gaze is something that patently appeals to him.
Little was known about Fyfe before this week except that his hairstyle (pictured) is kind of slicked back with a lick of paint. The first track to come from him, ‘Solace‘, was picked up extensively in the blogosphere and also on some very savvy radio stations. It’s kind of ethereal and dreamy and the protagonist’s (who we now know is Dixon) voice comes across serious and full, gliding across wispy synth chords and plucked electric guitar riffs. Whether it’s because we now know for sure that Fyfe is David’s Lyre is Paul Dixon or not, ‘St Tropez’ is a still more impressive proposition. Manager-less and without any label backing (major or otherwise), Dixon is gradually re-carving a niche for himself as Fyfe – totally estranged from that pop-rock vibe which characterised his work as David’s Lyre, but bolder for being so different. A press release I received about this track paraphrased Dixon as suggesting he “wanted to ease back into music gently.” Kid shouldn’t have chosen to write such good songs and then he might have been in with a shot.
Instead, ‘St Tropez’ is arresting. There’s no way anyone could listen to this and not speculate as to who was behind the marvelous high-register vocals (particularly reminiscent of those of Two Door Cinema Club frontman Alex Trimble), the whimsical portrait of coastal France and, most pressingly, that mix of grungy synths, angelic harmonies and orchestral grandeur on a scale that is normally reserved for the likes of Muse or Kanye West. The comparisons to Miike Snow have been coming thick and fast but I think they are misdirected. In all of Miike Snow’s work, there is an innate sense of control, a certain professionalism that Bloodshy and Avant’s history as super-producers has made hard to shake. ‘St Tropez’ feels unrehearsed, spontaneous for all its grandiose allusions. I dig ‘St Tropez’ because it is a series of seemingly random musical ideas that concatenate wonderfully. In the myriad moving parts to ‘St Tropez’ – the Miike Snowian tropical synths, the hints of guitar (Dixon, as David’s Lyre, was a guitarist), the swelling horns – it’s as if Dixon’s personal discomfort has been transferred into his music. The song is not whole and never truly sates, but who needs to be wholly satisfied when you can have 3’16” like this?
Fyfe – St Tropez