Recording information: The Chairworks; Vale Studios.
Following several EP releases, the debut full-length from Leeds-based duo Fossil Collective draws its indie folk tunes from the same classic rock-informed blueprints as acts like Fleet Foxes, Midlake, or some strains of the now defunct Vib Gyor, the band from whose ashes Fossil Collective was born. Acoustic strumming with understated, busy instrumentation is the order of much of Tell Where I Lie, with tracks like album-opener "Let It Go" or the spirited and catchy "Wolves" both driven by moody folk guitars and soft, pristine vocal harmonies, but supported by drums, piano, organ, and other elements, all muted and pushed into the background of the songs to form a wall of texture. Vocalists/multi-instrumentalists David Fendick and Jonny Hooker's bright harmonies and melodic sense fall pretty closely in line with the ghostly Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young-worship of Fleet Foxes for many songs, and the falsetto vocals and airy feel of tracks like "Monument" evoke the same woodsy melancholia of Bon Iver. While incredibly pleasant and thoughtfully delivered, the lack of originality keeps Fossil Collective from breaking through on songs like these. They fare better when they stretch out creatively, as on the lazy, floating space rock-branded folk of "Under My Arrest," which evokes Radiohead's early years of lightly experimental pop as much as it does the work of Fossil Collective contemporaries like Midlake or Great Lake Swimmers. Similarly, the albums epic centerpiece, "The Magpie," rides in on a patch of foggy ambience, building its folk-rock instrumentation to a burning summit of electric piano chords, towering drums, and experimental electronic tones. These sidesteps into experimentation and repetition pair nicely with the album's more affably predictable moments, heightening the overall dynamics of this delicately beautiful collection. ~ Fred Thomas
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