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Fugu



Do you worship at the twin altars of Brian Wilson and Phil Spector? Fugu, a French band named for the reportedly delectable and notoriously lethal blowfish dish of high-end Japanese cuisine, most certainly admires the layered, celestial pop practiced three decades ago by these dual musical deities. These nostalgic baroque-pop chefs serve up tasty plates of that seminal symphonic sound, putting their own continental imprimatur on the classic menu. This description should be enough to make most people think Stereolab, but while Fugu does bear more than a passing resemblance to said ensemble, has toured with the group on several occasions, and even had chaunteuse Laetitia Sadler guest on their debut album, they maximize the luscious harmonies and syrupy production while minimizing the arty experimentation. Fugu shapes their soaring orchestral fugues with the care and confidence of a master potter, layering on numerous horns and strings, keyboards, flute, and clarinet to craft a sumptuous, intricate whole. The mood is always mellow, the songs never rushed, making Fugu's music a paragon of laid-back pop bliss.

Led by enigmatic singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Mehdi Zannad, Fugu has been reticent about sharing their orchestral French-pop talents with the world until just recently, issuing only a couple of split singles (with Stereolab and Saint Etienne) and a brief EP over the first few years of their existence. This changed with Fugu 1, an 18-track rhapsody of feathery, baroque wall-of-sound rock.

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