FAN: Barton's Den (Polyvinyl) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, December 7th, 2023  


Barton’s Den


May 17, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The circle of life and death is something everybody has to come face-to-face with, sometimes much sooner than we’d like or had anticipated. For The Dodos’ singer/guitarist Meric Long, both made his direct acquaintance in his adult life soon after each otherfirst with the death of his father and then with the birth of his first child.

Interestingly, while the 10 songs on his debut album as FAN are influenced by and address both these events, they aren’t separate into the grief-stricken and the celebratory. Rather, these are (on the whole) emotionally muddled songs that exist in the grey area between life and death, sorrow and happiness.

Partly that’s due to the almost stoic nature of this album. Largely written and recorded using two synthesizers his father had given him, Barton’s Den was never intended to be an actual album. Rather, it was a way for him to feel closer to a parent he’d lost, simply by playing around on the pair of synthesizers. That’s, perhaps, what gives these lo-fi electronic songs their sense of defiance. For while those obvious emotions are present in the likes of “Since I Found You”a stark, minimal lamentand “Velour”a more up-tempo, spritely and almost jubilant numberon the whole, they’re obscured by layers of electronic melody that refuse, quite deliberately, to lay out in such obvious terms the inspiration behind them.

The result is a record that draws you into its very center in an attempt to decode its intentions. That, and the fact that the indifferent vocals and jittery melody of “Intro of Light” or the stark electronic quasi-post-punk of “Isn’t Love” are just incredibly well-rounded, catchy songs, make this a record that’s as enduring as, well, life and death themselves and which, once you immerse yourself within its folds, offers deep insight into both. (

Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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