Review: Filardo - "Falling Up"

Filardo - Falling Up
(Holy Page 2013)
"A nice balance between the experimental and the conventional."

I don't think that there's an album more worthy of being Arizona label Holy Page's first vinyl release than Falling Up, the first full length effort of Tom Filardo, brother of the label's founder, Christian. Filardo's solo work doesn't exactly share the same lo-fi no-wave aesthetic that labelmates Burgers and Estrojin; his signature sound is lush, a musical garden fertilized and watered with the influence of bands like The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and Peter, Paul and Mary. Falling Up is not too dissimilar to Chris Cohen's recent debut album Overgrown Path; Filardo and Cohen share a similar inflection in their vocals, melancholy and full of yearning. Filardo's instrumentation has it's own unique timbre, though. At times it has the bouncy air of  the ditties you'd listen to sitting on one of those kindergarten carpets that were rainbow colored, squishy and made up of jigsaw puzzle-shaped pieces. There are, perky, squeaking keyboards and plink-ing xylophones accenting tracks like "The Shed Months" and "Karen's Concerned". Other times, you can make connections to popular singer-songwriters of the 70s. It's an adventurous record that refuses to stand in one place for too long, and is worth your time. 

The tracks that open and close the curtains on side A, each titled "Yesterday's Cup", are a-capella numbers that call to mind the harmonies that Brian Wilson painstakingly wove for The Beach Boys. They really exemplify the bright, cheerful mood of the side, which reflects on the world through the eyes of a child. There are carefree atmospheres and spiraling, shimmering synths, Filardo's crooning breezily hopping, skipping and jumping through it all. "Opening Windows in May" is side A's standout track, opening with gentle, nimble acoustic pluckings, sounding much like a lost Cat Stevens song. Out of nowhere, a country-fried guitar joins in. The track becomes a joyous celebration. The swelling synths, guitar, and pitter-pattering drums all blend together perfectly. 

Side B holds a more electronic vibe, robotic and Human League-esque, especially in "I Don't Getcha' Kid". It belongs in the background of an 80s teen movie, and is actually a bit danceable. I'd consider it the pop single of the album. It's certainly Falling Up's most infectiously catchy track.  However, there are a few dull moments near the end. I didn't particularly enjoy "Spare Me Fantasy". It was a little boisterous and over-the-top. "I Still Get Around" makes up for it, though, serving as the dynamic "power ballad" of the album. There are many concepts explored here, kind of like of Montreal's more recent work. Falling Up is a very unique record, finding a nice balance between the experimental and the conventional. It's quite the commendable first effort. Listen below, buy here. ----> http://holypagerecords.bandcamp.com/album/falling-up