Fairmont has been writing hook-laden power-pop/indie-pop with a bitter twist for more than a decade, and The Grand and the Grandiose is the band’s most assured work yet. Grand strips down the complex arrangements that have characterized recent Fairmont releases to a guitar/bass/drums trio with occasional contributions from piano and melodic percussion. The tunes rely heavily on the guitar-based songwriting for the main thrust of the album, especially in mood-setting instrumental opener “The Dead Leaves of Autumn.” Fairmont has been writing songs in this genre for so long that this narrow focus is a benefit instead of a hindrance: the band knows what it’s doing, and that expertise shows in these ten never-boring tunes.
The streamlined sonic palette puts the focus squarely on Neil Sabatino’s confident, excellent vocal melodies. The memorable refrain of “Misery,” the intimate performance of “The Sun Shines Only for Me,” and the “ba ba ba” background vocals of ‘Black Heart” are highlights in these tunes that don’t mince words or sounds. If you’re a fan of thoughtful power-pop/indie-pop from veterans who have the chops to make you remember a song long after it’s gone, The Grand and the Grandiose is going to excite you.