When We're Fire
You're the One That I Want
This debut album from L.A.-based producer Lo Fang (a.k.a. Matthew Hemerlein) was written and recorded during travels that landed him in studios in London, Nashville, and L.A. with GRAMMY® Award–winning producer Francois Tetaz. The classically trained violinist, cellist, bassist, pianist, and guitarist mixes classical, R&B, electronic music, folk, and pop into his own sparse brand of existential art-song. The title track, for example, features the plink of ukulele strings, orchestral synths, and automated handclaps, with no other discernible rhythm alongside Hemerlein’s sweet but stoic vocals. Novel musical arrangements invigorate what could be a heavy and dry collection. “Look Away” works a melodic, straightforward synth-pop hit single. “#88” spends near seven minutes building from sparse ukulele licks to gorgeous falsetto flights and ascending synth lines. A deliberately restrained version of “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease (with Hemerlein performing both Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta’s parts) is so solemn that one wonders if he’d been listening to another former 4AD artist, Red House Painters’ Mark Kozelek, for inspiration.