Band of the Day

2012.06.25

Fonda

Technicolor dream-pop from Southern California
Don't lecture me the anger you see is yours to believe.
lyrics from Better Days

Los Angeles-based indie pop group Fonda has been making music since 1994 when Emily Cook (Keyboards, Vocals) and David Klotz (Vocals, Guitar) met while working at the same production company. The group has gone through several personnel groupings since the early days when they began playing local venues and released their debut EP The Music for Beginners in 1998 on the Top Quality record label, which also released their debut full-length album The Invisible Girl in 1999. In addition to releasing their second full-length feature The Strange and the Familiar in 2001, the band also performed the theme song to Spy Kids, which received heavy airplay on Radio Disney. The last full-length album by the band, Catching Up To the Future, was released in 2003. In addition to Cook and Klotz, the band currently consist of Johnny Joyner (Bass), Ginny Pitchford (Keyboards), Johnny Broeckel (Drums), and Jason Crawford (Guitar) who are touring in support of their latest EP Better Days (2011, Minty Fresh).

Los Angeles dream-pop band Fonda took eight years off between recording their new EP, Better Days, and previous full-length, but you could hardly call bandleaders Emily Cook and David Klotz slackers. The couple are both major players in Hollywood—Cook as a screenwriter (her IMDB page lists credits for Shakespeare spoof Gnomeo & Juliet and Pixar's great Ratatouille) and Klotz as the music supervisor for the mega-hit TV show Glee—and they took a break from the band to focus on their careers and raising their first child. But the prolonged absence didn't hinder a creative free fall; Better Days showcases Fonda's expansive, glittering sound, combining throwback British 60s pop (Farfisa!) with enough guitar tracks to make My Bloody Valentine's Kevin Shields blush. Fonda will make you pine for the halcyon days of college radio in the post-Nirvana era, when bands like Lush, Slowdive and the Catherine Wheel championed lush guitar-based rock that favored sweet sentiments and loud guitars over brute masculinity.

The band's sound and image could only come from Southern California—it's bright and peppy, full of bravado and ambition, but filtered through a lens of haze and beautiful, smoggy sunsets. Songs like "Better Days" and "A Love That Won't Let You Go" feature Cook's velvety voice floating above a sea of reverb, with distorted, shoegaze-y guitars, heavenly harmonies, and steady drums keeping things grounded. Klotz sings lead on "In the Coach Station Light," a jaunty, 2-minute pop song wrapped in a wall of guitars. The chiming, nostalgic "Summertime Flight" recalls the band's earlier work, especially the 2003 album Catching Up to the Future, sounding both vintage and brand new at the same time.

Though Cook and Klotz have gone through numerous bandmates since they first started playing together nearly 17 years ago, they've never lost the chemistry that makes Fonda so special. You can hear that closeness in the band's lyrics, which are often sentimental and backward-looking but never cloying. "When I held a memory so dear/ I feel that all the love will disappear," Cook sings on "Some Things Aren't Worth Knowing" with a touch of heartbreak. But after an extended hiatus, Fonda is back, and let's hope they don't disappear again.