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September 19, 2011 | by  | in Arts Music |
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Fuyuko’s Fables

Fuyuko’s Fables may have only been playing together for a little over a year, but the lush folk-pop hooks of their self-titled debut EP belie their relatively recent arrival on the Wellington music scene.

Formed in early 2010, the band have since consisted of young trio Scott Maynard, Jeremy Hunter and Al Green, and have recently added two new members Matt Maynard and Mike Isaacs .Central to the band’s sound is bassist and primary songwriter Scott Maynard, formerly of fellow Wellington band Tin Soldiers—and when I meet him along with fellow member Jeremy Hunter, Hunter is quick to point this out, although equally clear is that all three members contribute creatively. “Scott writes the bulk of the tunes, you know, basically the song but then we kind of get to play around with it and everyone sort of gets to have their musical say on it, which is cool.” This is a band who thrive on jamming sessions and when asked to elaborate on the songwriting process Maynard is not interested in a formulaic process: “I usually have a couple of songs I’m working on at a time, sometimes I have a basic idea and lyrics and melody, and then just bring it in and everyone kind of fleshes out their parts, and sometimes I like to try and arrange more of it.”
The EP itself is a delight, and touches on the Phoenix Foundation and Fleet Foxes en route to Fuyuko’s Fables’ own particular brand of satisfying folk pop.

Aptly titled opening track and standout “Buildings” builds the tension with a long slow introduction built around Maynard’s delicate vocals before dropping into a satisfying mid-tempo groove driven by Al Green’s percussion. The soaring Grizzly Bear-style vocal harmonies that drift in and out are a constant feature and set the tone for the rest of the EP.

“Drag ‘em” is a rollicking folk ditty that morphs into an introspective ballad, with Maynard imploring the listener to “whisper to me the secret to life”. Both Maynard and Hunter assure me that the band spent a lot of their early days exploring their vocal abilities and playing around with harmonies, and nowhere is that effort more rewarded than on the effortless second half of “Drag ‘em”. Meanwhile, the faster sections of the song are a taste of just how much fun Fables can be when they suppress their slow-tempo tendencies and jam out.

The band describe third track “My Oh” as “the pop song” of the EP and it is undoubtedly the most straightforward and commercially likely slice of New Zealand pop. Maynard’s sunny vocals breeze over a simple up-tempo beat and the track carries more than a hint of the Phoenix Foundation’s melodic sensibilities about it—and I love the Phoenix Foundation. At a little under three and a half minutes it is easily the shortest track on the EP—the others all breaking the five minute mark—and seems destined to become a gig favourite.

“My Oh” and its successor were the first two tracks recorded for the EP, but the contrast in tone couldn’t be greater. While “My Oh” is immediate and catchy, “Coffee Shaped Treat” sees the band embrace their psychedelic tendencies and produce a slow burning piece of freak folk that, while respectable, ultimately feels out of place among the other tracks of the album, particularly coming as it does directly after “My Oh”.

I’m a sucker for a great title, so closing track “No Such Thing as a Green Fox” instantly caught my attention—and my interest was rewarded. It’s the longest track present, and captures everything good about Fukuyo’s Fables including probably Maynard’s best vocal performance. It’s only apt that it is a final harmony of all three members’ voices that brings the short EP to a close.

The EP is available from Fables’ official Bandcamp page (fuyukosfables.bandcamp.com) on a ‘name your price’ basis, and the boys have nothing but praise for the format. “I’m glad we went the ‘pay what you want’ model, at least we get a few dollars coming in. I think it’s very legit, especially for local bands…. There’s a lot more music these days being made just for the sake of it rather than money, which I think is cool.” Limited physical copies will also be available and were in fact being printed as we spoke.
Fables are playing with Big River Chain at SFBH on Wednesday21st September to celebrate the release of the EP. Entry is free and the drinks are cheap so there’s really no excuse not to go along and check out what this impressive group can do with an expanded lineup and a live setting.

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