Label: Asthmatic Kitty Release Date: Out Now! Website: http://myspace.com/folchen Fol Chen deal in quirky (Doncha hate that word?), slightly twee (I bet you hate that word even more) laid back indie pop. Signed to Asthmatic Kitty, they possess a similar ambitious outlook to the label’s co-founder Sufjan Stevens, presenting further evidence that an album can present just as much depth and scope as a novel, or even a majestic painting by a visionary artist such as Hieronymus Bosch. Through referencing the fictional poet from Nabokov’s Pale Fire in the album title, some might say this makes the band a bit pretentious. I say poppycock! Wouldn’t you rather be aloof and intellectual then a tuba shaped dummy who thinks Werner Herzog is a kind of German sausage? Hailing from LA you expect the band will deliver a little bit of sunshine and daydream glitz. Fol Chen provide this in spades, with an assortment of layers consisting of ambrosial vocals, moving horns, anxious synths and a very busy drum machine. Part I opens with ‘The Believers’ a frog march of downbeat sluggish electronica and gloom cast horns. It’s strange and oddly sexy. “By God we’re on our bended knees but we don’t know that it means.” ‘’No Wedding Cake’ reminds me a little of The Rentals, with a nice disco guitar riff that arrives like an unexpected pimple. ‘You and Your Sister in Jericho’ possibly composed on a children’s keyboard transforms into a barge that drifts sedately along a canal populated by lost shopping trolleys, through dense, almost suffocating fog. It is a soothing lullaby like song which ends in thundering atmospheric drum fuzz. This point of an album is usually make or break for locking down the listener, particularly on a record such as this one which is relatively minimal, easing you into the Fol Chen sound. Thankfully Part I sparks into freak out mode. ‘The Idiot’ compounds laid back so-Cal saccharine vocals over nursery rhyme electronica. I suppose it could be interpreted as a belated male response to The Cardigan’s ‘Lovefool’. ‘Red Skies over Garden City (The Ballad of Donna Donna)’ tunes into WLIR 92.7 before exploding into angelic rapture, a real euphoric beauty, buoyant with domineering drums  ‘Writer, That’s All’ has that ‘Hollaback Girl’ skip. The chorus is delivered with nonchalant gusto “Lately I don’t feel so hot / Could it be the Summer / Turning into fall.” ‘Cable TV’ is drenched in soft Tom Tom Club beats. It’s strangely suggestive, luring you to a cheap motel on the outskirts of town, “I know a place and they got Cable TV” the chirping sitar which pops up out of the blue appears to act as the innocent conscience disrupting the liaison. ‘Please, John, You’re Killing Me’ begins at funeral pace before setting off like a song trapped in the tortured head of ex-Junkie, journeyman Lou Reed. ‘The Longer U Wait’ fatigued in desert heat is the musical equivalent of an annoying child asking “Are we there yet?” near the end of a vivid adventure. Almost filler saved by a dirty electro finish. Before ‘If Tuesday Comes’ rides off in the sunset, too cool for its own good. What’s not to like about a band that tingles enigmatically, Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made is a soundtrack to all of life’s great urges; detailing the journey into dreary decadence, a frolic of sun soaked care free goings on, and then the comedown; it’s a blurred line existing between simplicity and complexity, elegance and trashiness. A decent story. Can’t wait for Part II. 8/10