Though the Fawns won’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserve, the Northampton band set a high bar for all the new music that will follow in 2016 with the release on Jan. 1 of “Goodnight, Spacegirl,” their first new album in 10 years.
It’s nothing fancy, nothing fussy — just 11 tight, tuneful songs destined to become overlooked classics. From the get-go, frontwoman Lesa Bezo is in fine form as she evokes the teenage experience we all wish we’d had on “High School Party,” a song packed full of hooks, with surf-y guitar parts that zoom around over a playful rhythm that’s practically an invitation to bounce around. Her way with winsome melodies is just as evident on the next track, “Strong Arm of the Quiet,” as the terse guitar riff driving the verses blossoms beneath layers of prismatic vocal harmonies on the chorus. And her paean to the camaraderie among smokers at concerts on “Smoking Lounge” is at once wistful and clear-eyed, anchored by a bold power-pop guitar riff and yet another stick-in-your-head melody.
Taken together, those three tunes amount to a clinic in upbeat pop songwriting. Bezo is equally at home on slower, and weirder, songs. She sifts through the contents of her sleeping subconscious over accompaniment reminiscent of a gentle calliope on “Animal Dreams,” and promises to keep your secrets in exchange for lending her your car and checking on her cat (among other duties/privileges) on “Like to Be a Friend.”
By the time Bezo and the band — guitarist Henning Ohlenbusch, bassist Max Germer, drummer Brian Marchese and keyboardist Ken Maiuri — bring the album home with the woozy, textured title track, the decade-long wait for “Goodnight, Spacegirl” seems like it was an eternity. If ever a return has been welcome, it’s this one.
Photo by Greg Saulmon