Vladimir Nabokov, one of my favorite novelists published a story back in 1936 about a fictionalized Mediterranean town by the name of Fialta, where an enigmatic protagonist explores and obsesses over themes of vacation and travel, the unreliability of memory, idealized love, and the general sense of confusion that’s often evoked by the passing of time. In 2011, a San Luis Obispo, CA-based quartet of songwriters, David Provenzano, Beth Clements, Michael Leibovich, and Sarah Shotwel decided to name their band after the Nabokov story – they felt that the story was a perfect fit for the songs they had already written: whimsical yet dark; summery melodies with haunted, seemingly weather-beaten lyrics.
With literature being a primary influence on the Fialta, their work manages to frequently sound as though it’s have a conversation with the poetry and novels they’ve long adored – sometimes as though they were offering reinterpretations and commentary. It’s actually smart, in the same fashion as the Decemberists but not as seemingly pretentious.
“Photographs” is the latest single off Summer Winter, and it’s a lovely and charming song, complete with gorgeously layered harmonies that actually belie a bittersweet tone reminiscent of the end of summers, and of one’s innocence.