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Fitness Forever - Cosmos

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 28 / 1 / 2014

Fitness Forever - Cosmos
Label: Elefant Records
Format: CD


Irresistible second album of 70’s-influenced pop from Italian band Fitness Forever, which was recorded entirely on vintage equipment

Down on his luck, with his career as an underwear model on the rocks, Carlos Valderrama formed Fitness Forever in Naples in 2006. He had intended to call his band 'Love Forever', but around this time, he found out the hard way that love is not forever, and had to change his plans. He was already an active member of three other bands, and so were his bandmates – the band's experiences verged from hip-hop to prog. Where before he had always written in English, he decided to use his native tongue for his new project. He concluded that UK and US audiences were no more likely to listen to an Italian singing in English than they were an Italian singing in Italian. Happy to describe himself as “one of the worst dancers and singers in the music industry”, Carlos serves as the band's producer and arranger, but recruited a female vocalist Paster, who had never sung before and works as a web-designer. In 2007, Fitness Forever released a digital-only single on EMI. Although Carlos' family members all did their bid by downloading it twice each, the relationship with EMI didn't work out. They switched to Elefant Records, and then set aside the next year to record their ambitious debut album, ‘Personal Train’ - an attempt to re-create the spirit of Italy in the 1970s and 1980s. Carlos wanted to pay tribute to a better time, when (as he sees it) everyone took a month off each year to go on holiday and make films with super-8 cameras. By his own admission, Carlos found himself exhausted and out of ideas after completing that first album. A few singles trickled out over the next few years, but it was four years before a second album could be completed. Where Spanish and Italian pop music had been the primary influences on ‘Personal Train’ for this album, Carlos looked to contemporaries like Ariel Pink and also paid tribute to his recently found love of 1970’s Brazilian funk music (including Marcos Vale, Trio Ternura and Trio Esperanca). There were also plenty of nods to old favourites Steely Dan and David Axelrod. To complete the package, Fitness Forever armed themselves with as many vintage amps as they could find (nothing you hear on the album was made after 1978) and then hired a full orchestra and string section. Like the debut, Fitness Forever have set the album around the beaches of Europe. But this time, the sun has set and the mood has shifted. While, superficially, 'Cosmos' would be dismissed as a throwback to easy-listening and Burt Bacharach (a trend that has resurfaced on occasions over the years), the intricate instrumentation and bold arrangements make the whole record a treat. Perfect for any kind of party, but also a rewarding headphone listen. At times, these tunes are reminiscent of the all-too-short collaboration between Trevor Horn and Belle & Sebastian (on 2003's ‘Dear Catastrophe Waitress’), while others are blissful mixes of funk and jazz. The whole album is drenched in gorgeous string arrangements, straight from the Disney film of your imagination. The production is lush – the time spent acquiring all the vintage microphones and analogue equipment was well worth it. While the language barrier limits my ability to appreciate the lyrics,that is a small price to pay for a gorgeous and irresistibly tuneful album. A must buy.

Track Listing:-
1 Piano Fender Blues
2 Hotel Flamingo
3 Il Cane Ciuff
4 Le Intenzioni Del Re
5 Lui
6 Vederti Distante
7 L'amore Annegato
8 Laura
9 Cosmos
10 Disco Quiz
11 Il Mare

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