Album Review: def.fo — Eternity

Shimmering modern psychedelia with a tuneful foundation is at the core of Eternity, the new album from def.fo aka Tom Powell. His liquid, phase-shifted guitars and laid-back vocals are part of the hypnotic mix that characterizes the album. There’s nothing about the album that fixes it as belonging to a specific time period; one moment it feels ‘60s psych; the next (as on “Circles”) there’s a kind of trip-hop character. The music is friendly and inviting, and if you let it, the vibe will draw you into its world.

“Play it Cool” combines shoegaze and pop into something that should please fans of both. “Dreamers” is an unexpected left turn, with banjos and glockenspiel. Once the initial shock subsides, somehow it works. “Autumn Leaves” (not the Great American Songbook classic) is a breezy, catchy tune; bits of fiddle double down on its melodic loveliness.

“Godly” is all throbbing guitar and – oh, dear me – rapping. The tune overall is very much in a baggy Britpop vein, but the vocals put me off; nothing wrong with rap, but it feels completely out of place here. Too much stylistic variance can be a dangerous thing. “It’s a Wonderful Life,” on the other hand, is an excellent rocker in a mid-period Beatlesque style. It’s good enough to (nearly) wash away the unpleasant memories of the track that preceded it.

“The Healing Fields” is a sweet, pastoral piece with gauzy vocal harmonies and a haunting/haunted feel. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Moody Blues circa ‘68, which can only be a good thing. The title track is understated and yet somehow catchy, slightly reminiscent of Teenage Fanclub. Eternity wraps up in style with “Watching the World,” another catchy tune in that ‘90s Britpop style, with some great and uncluttered lead guitar work.

If Eternity featured all but one of its tracks, I’d happily call it a four-star album. If you can overlook the two and a half minutes of hip-hop misstep – -and it’s my enthusiastic recommendation that you should — then there are many joys to be found in the sonic experience that is def.fo’s Eternity.

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