Foreign rock music? Typically, we might think of Britain as being the country with the biggest musical influence on American rock. Whether it’s the Beatles invasion or the success of bands like Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys, it’s easy to see the extent of our anglophilia across the decades. Nonetheless, the rest of the world has its own share of great musicians, and they have certainly kept up with their English and American counterparts. Le Folli Arie, a new group out of Milan, are proving that Italy has what it takes to attract a global listening base.
The artwork from their debut album is a great representation of LFA’s overall persona and style: equal parts craft and diversity, artistic statement and open book, all open to interpretation from multiple angles. Part of this comes from their wide range of influences, drawing on “echoes of Jeff Buckley, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Porcupine Tree, Lucio Battisti, PFM (and many more…),” but they also remain true to their distinctly Italian identity. Eight of the thirteen songs on their album are in their native language, and even some of those that are in English have Italian versions.
Of course, having such a large swath of influences lends itself well to a sound that might just as easily be “prog music dressed as pop” or precisely the opposite. Such is the band’s personal pride, a certain unclassifiable, organic, textured sound that distinguishes itself in a sea of manufactured music. Nothing about LFA suggests it’s the creation of a record label or a studio – their identity is their own.
But as Americans, it can be tempting at times to not wander outside the English language for our entertainment. After all, we might tell ourselves, there is so much English content that we shouldn’t bother with words we can’t understand. Well, classical music fans aren’t put off by Mozart or Beethoven’s European identities; words are secondary to good music in the end. When we let national borders define the edges and limits of our tastes, we effectively revoke our own passports. Why, when the world is so full of great art, would we ever want to limit ourselves? Perhaps the truth is that a journey to Italy would be a daunting proposal for most of us. But rest assured, you are safe in your chair. Maybe it’s time to take a trip – and Le Folli Arie are the perfect tour guide to Milan.