They’re perfect listening for a lazy Sunday morning, a relaxed evening by the fire and could probably cure a hangover. It was no surprise then that a chilled ambience filled The Prince Albert in Brighton for Fossil Collective. People were even sitting down. You could tell it was going to be a very folky night.
There was great support from Joe Banfi, a dead ringer for Ben Howard (also under Communion Records), and just as vocally beautiful. Banfi’s voice had an edgy, croaky quality, which perfectly complimented his intriguing folk-meets-grunge style. Particularly memorable was his latest song ‘Nomads’ where the delicate piano and guitar plucking builds into an eerie tribal drumming noise complete with ringing electric guitars and Banfi’s husky howls.
Joining us for week two of their 60-date tour of the UK and US were Fossil Collective, an indie folk two-piece composed of David Fendick (vocals, guitar) and Jonny Hooker (vocals, drums). While the Leeds band take inspiration from Simon & Garfunkel and Fleetwood Mac, their overall sound is reminiscent of more contemporary artists. Take the harmony-rich sound of Fleet Foxes and the beautiful melancholy of Bon Iver and you’ll have something that resembles Fossil Collective’s meticulously crafted folk.
It was a nice touch that they played their recently released album ‘Tell Where I Lie’ in full from beginning to end. Sort of. They switched the first two songs around so that they started off with ‘Under My Arrest’. This yearning ballad combines fluttering guitars and romantic violins with a haunting chorus where ‘Under My Arrest’ is repeatedly sung in an arpeggio style against complementing chords. Just mesmerising.
They probably went for this ordering so they didn’t peak straightaway with their next song, which was, hands down, their best. ‘Let it Go’ is a perfect example of David and Jonny’s stunning harmonies, and their Fleet Foxes-esque ‘hoo-ing’ between verses. Full of imagery and metaphors, the lyrics portray a fading romance with lines such as, ‘We were an island, you were than one that broke away’ and ‘We started something, tried to make a fire without a flame’.
The theme of love and nature is dominant through the album and continued into their next track. ‘Boy with the Blackbird Kite’ is punctuated with that familiar harmonic ‘hoo-ing’, while there seems to be a more hopeful feeling towards relationships: ‘Let’s fly above the landscape/ There’s a horizon that’s always in sight/ We’ll go straight up and skywards/ We’ll always be just like two birds in the sky.’
Next was the first single to be taken from the album, ‘The Wolves’, which evokes a sense of urgency as they sing ‘The wolves are coming out/ Light a fire when you see them all arrive’. I particularly liked how it all came together in a folk-style electric guitar solo. ‘Brother’ is a melange of sound with echoing guitars, pretty piano and lush trumpets which seemed very Bon Iver, as did the delicate acoustic intro and high-pitched vocals of ‘Monument’ which followed.
Then came the first song they ever wrote, ‘On and On’, with its convinced tone that ‘you are the one’, before ‘When Frank Became an Orb’ which they wrote on the same night. This track brought more angelic ‘hoo-ing’ as it depicted tales of sorrow. A whispery, stripped back ‘How Was I to Know’ followed, and they brought the show to a close with ‘The Magpie’. Another favourite, it starts as a laid-back, acoustic track until the chorus pushes the tempo for some atmospheric pitch-bending ‘ohh-ing’ and a crescendoing outro.
By performing their album it brought to life the true work of art that is ‘Tell Where I Lie’. It demonstrated how the album draws you in with the catchy ‘Let it Go’ and keeps you listening attentively to the less immediate tracks that grow on you over time. Fossil Collective are definitely ones to watch. If you can’t catch them on their tour, they’re playing Green Man and End of the Road festival later this year.