new music: stream ‘string theory acoustic’, the latest ep from james fauntleroy. #soundcheck

April 18, 2014

Depending on your tastes, you either know James Fauntleroy as the singer of boundary pushing collective Cocaine 80s or as one of Justin Timberlake’s primary writing collaborators on the contract fulfilling The 20/20 Experience. But the singer and producer known more for larger than life productions (be they relentlessly indie or as mainstream as it gets) strips it way back on his latest String Theory Acoustic.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

Accompanied by little more than a nylon string guitar, Fauntleroy’s String Theory is delicate and subtle in all of the ways his productions for Chris Brown aren’t. The common narrative is that the more successful you become, the larger your productions become. Look at how many once indie bands suddenly hire a whole damn orchestra for the follow-up to their commercial breakthrough. But here, Fauntleroy retreats into a bedroom pop EP.

Kicking off with the bittersweet “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone,” the album runs straight into “A Beautiful Mind.” The 6 tracks play almost like a single song. Or at least, like listening to Fauntleroy play them in order, non-stop on his bed. For all I know, that’s what it is. The overdubs are minimal. His maximalist pop instincts subdued beneath an undeniable sincerity. The most produced is the stunning love song “Year Round.” It’s the lone track with multiple guitar tracks and the call and response vocals are pushed to the forefront. While the detailed production stands out against the rest of the minimal EP, the sincerity that makes String Theory so infectious isn’t buried under the weight of larger production. James Fauntleroy is certainly far from a newcomer, but this EP cements him as one of the rare artists capable of bridging the gap between mainstream synthetic pop and the heart and soul of underground music.