On Saturday afternoon, I fell in love with an album. That I listened to said album three times in a row, louder and louder until I’m pretty sure my roommates were wondering what was going on in my bedroom, is strange. Weirder still is that first line. It is increasingly rare these days for me to listen to an album in its entirety. As a member of the cherry-picking Spotify generation, it’s easier to listen to one or two songs. The ‘Discovery’ function on the streaming platform somehow encourages that; promising profundity but supporting superficial listening. With the veritable smorgasbord of media at our fingertips, it’s no wonder I approached three hours of working at home on a Saturday afternoon with an intense sense of vertigo. At one point, I actually called Brother J who, startled, made a couple of suggestions. But then, deciding to fight the irrationality of weekend work with the irrationality of subverting contemporary cultural consumption patterns, I took a chance on Ten Fé. Sometime, somewhere else, I had been offered a single serving of the band. For once, I decided, I’d dig in.
Ten Fé is Spanish for ‘Have Faith’ and, while the line will have been worn thin by critics across the globe, investing in the London duo actually pays dividends. Loyalty, in sticking with ‘Hit The Light’ for all 11 songs across the band’s debut, is richly rewarded, as the album seemingly expands to fill the space you inhabit, complex and warm. That warmth is likely a function of the invisible hand of producer Ewan Pearson (Jagwar Ma, M83, Delphic) who, even when dealing with more electronic acts like those three, imbues his charges’ work with a certain sincerity, letting layers wash over each other in the mix such that nothing ever sounds deliberately contrived. Ten Fé certainly threatens to boil over into mawkish obviousness. But while the band has all of the key tools at their disposal to build an inoffensive, comfortable middle-of-the-road nest, there is enough dynamism across ‘Hit The Light’, enough grit to challenge themselves, that the result is intensely listenable.
Take it from me, I’ve heard the thing in close quarters a number of times. Embarrassingly, ‘Twist Your Arm’ was my Ten Fé gateway drug. Even after I’ve harped on about expanding your mind and engaging with the unknown, I come back to the one song that started it all. I needn’t have. I’ve since learned that ‘Overflow‘ is a post-punk delicacy, ‘In The Air‘ is poignant 90s rock, and ‘Elodie‘ is inarguably fucking brilliant. Ben Moorhouse and Leo Duncan’s first LP ebbs and flows but, across songs that often breach the 5’ mark, rarely fails to engage. I return to ‘Twist Your Arm’ for its killer line (‘I gotta twist you arm to hold your hand’) but also for the way it reminds me of feeling, staring out across a sea of rapt 50-somethings, flailing limbs uninhibited, at U2 in Sydney, 2010. Anthemic and uplifting, this is a song for the music faithful.
Ten Fé – Twist Your Arm