Should you be lucky enough to find yourself in Rome on the 25th of this month, that’s next Wednesday, then I suggest you abandon your plans and head for Circolo Degli Artisti in order to witness the debut gig of Fitness Forever.
The brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Carlos Valderrama (football fans please note ~ no, not that one), Fitness Forever’s album Personal Train is well worth checking out for any retro-pop fan with a sweet tooth. With a self-confessed list of influences including The Polyphonic Spree, Richard Hawley, The High Llamas, The Free Design, The Beach Boys, Legrand, Morricone and, of course, Bacharach, I can also detect heavy doses of the Tijuana Brass, The Divine Comedy and even a splash of ELO.
Brought to us by the good people at Elefant Records in Madrid, Valderrama’s quartet do not shy away from big arrangements. Strings, brass and female-led vocal harmonies are all thrown into the mix, yet everything sounds as light and breezy as a mid-seventies afternoon cookery or travel show theme; one that would no doubt be presented by Judith Chalmers.
I’m enjoying this album very much, sunshine in February is always welcome, but please check out the myspace, which currently showcases two tracks alas not on the album, one of which is the fantastic Pioppaino People, a fair bit more indie in its arrangement than the material on Personal Train. As I believe they say in Italy ~ divertiti!