J Fernandez sounds like he has been sitting out in the sun for a long time thinking about these songs, enjoying the warmth but also feeling a bit sad. Not too sad, but a touch of melancholy. Many Levels Of Laughter is a very well crafted piece of psychedelic songwriting, pressed to LP (including some indie-store-exclusive coloured vinyl) by A Joyful Noise.
7/10 Robin Staff review, 28 July 2015
Please enjoy supreme pleasantness. There may be a lot of chill low-stakes indie rock out there, but that doesn’t stop J Fernandez from popping in for a record of slight treats inspired by a hopefully reciprocated fondness for his listener. On ‘Many Levels of Laughter’, the riffs are twinkly and sweet, the arrangements are smooth, and Fernandez is ever so slightly psychedelic. Not too much, mind; he’s just living on the cosy fringe of reality.
While this record would do well in the collection of a Yo La Tengo fan seeking further sleepy respite, it also delves into Jacco Gardner’s realm: rather than create nine seamless songs, Fernandez offers a pic ‘n’ mix selection of tunes that go from laid back lounge pop to hallucinogenic psych in a moment. On “Casual Encounter” he uses his voice to a more pantomimic effect as toy keyboards blare against growling guitars of an Ava Luna persuasion. Even in these moments, though, Fernandez is none too hyped, humming “Please don’t listen to me” offhand like he’s only half-aware there’s an album going on. The smoky and shakily strummed “Holy Hesitation” moves at a curious pace but feels much the same, resting on a chorus of soft-spoken mantras (“Focus on what you’re not”!) around a fading melody.
J Fernandez makes a good replacement bus for all the indie songwriters who have become too obnoxious to really lounge with us: on “Souvenirs”, he sounds like he’s doing a low-key Ariel Pink song (do they exist anymore?) alongside a Badly Drawn Boy arrangement of twinkling keys and obscured sax. If people could keep it on the down low as well as he did, I’m pretty sure indie pop wouldn’t be so terrible.
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- Many Levels of Laughter by J Fernandez
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