The leaves outside are starting their transformation, the temperatures are dropping and we’ve officially turned that seasonal corner, deep in the heart of Fall. October is a month that welcomes diversity, transition and spooky good times. Thus, it only seems appropriate that the Portland-based band Tu Fawning chose this wonderful time of the year for the release of their debut album “Hearts on Hold.”

An album and a season, you ponder?

Well, this album and this season are like jack-o-lanterns and candles. Together, they set a cool scene. The opener of the album, “Multiply a House,” has a blazing two-note trumpet that remains steady throughout track. It’s so different and shrill, that it’s nearly off-putting. But then the dark, mysterious vocals counterbalance in a way that is entrancing. And this collective of multi-instrumentalists doesn’t stop at the trumpet.

Packed with diversity, sounds from theatrical piano to marching drums emerge and a “sounds-like” ranging from The White Stripes to Slow Club are alive. Surprisingly, while in the midst of the musical hodgepodge, it doesn’t feel inconsistent. The connective thread lies mainly in the overall tone and the vocals. Tu Fawning is able to create a consistent shadowy sound while tapping into some seriously soulful vocals.

The best part is while they’ve pegged this darker tone, they don’t dwell in it so long that the album feels like a bummer. It’s actually rather enchanting. The track “Just too Much” keeps a steady, nearly tribal drum beat from the get-go and has a sing-along feel that makes it so gratifying. You wanna join a chorus of “ohhs” that keep it ghostly.

While a solid, polished album, it also doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Certainly enjoyable while listening, unless you are a hardcore fan of the band, this wouldn’t be an album you pull out too often. Perhaps it’s the complexity, perhaps it’s the darkness, but much like this season, “Hearts on Hold” will probably only stay on the radar for a few months. Maybe for their next album, Tu Fawning should aim for winter. That season always overstays its welcome.

Artist: Tu Fawning
Album: “Hearts on Hold”
Label: Provenance Records
Release Date: October 5, 2010

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