This Is Farewell

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The Fairways' This Is Farewell is indeed the farewell release by the San Francisco-based indie poppers. The disc is made up of demos for their never-finished second album recorded at various times, as well as songs released on singles. Eight of the 13 tracks here are demos and taken together they form what could have been one of the great indie pop records right up there with the Orchids' Unholy Soul or Heavenly's Le Jardin de Heavenly. The songs are catchy and sweet, built around ringing guitars and Brent Kenji's tender vocals. Recorded as demos, they sound fuller and more realized than most bands' finished records. The first three songs on the record are a stunning combination that, taken alone, would have been enough to secure the band a spot in the indie pop firmament. "Don't Call Me Dear" is a electric piano-driven jangler with wonderful group-harmony vocals and some bitingly funny lyrics, "The Back of Her Hand" is more traditional Fairways material but delivered with more verve than before, and "Catch That Man" is café jazz balladry at its best with more fine vocals from the group. Of the other demos, the bubbling cover of the old chestnut "Little White Lies" and the thick and rich "Goodbye California" stand out. It is fortunate that these tracks can be heard, but it is a melancholy pleasure to think that music this good was never fully realized. The single tracks are not as musically inventive or memorable, though there are a couple of fine efforts like their take on Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes' "The Rain Fell Down," a note-perfect tribute to a band that is unjustly obscure, and the acoustic "This Is Farwell," which could have come straight off of Tracey Thorn's solo record. The only complaint is with the sequencing of the album. It would have been better to present the eight demos as a unified piece and then let the single and comp tracks end the disc. Oh well, better this way than not at all. The Fairways story is not an uncommon one. Thanks to Matinee for letting them tell it.

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