Despite losing Edda Rún Ólafsdóttir and Hildur Ársælsdóttir (both of whom nevertheless make appearances on the album) as permanent band-members, Amiina return to high form with Fantômas. This album is a distinct progression in their style. The previous two full-length albums, 2007's Kurr and 2010's Puzzle, had a warm, folksy, almost homespun sound, and this can still to some extent be found in songs like "Juve & Fandor" and "Paris." But there's a much more of a soundtrack-like feel to this album. Many of the songs, including "Café," "Simplon Express, "Entrepôts De Bercy," "Lady Beltham," and "L'homme Noir," are marked by a sense of uncertainty and dramatic tension as might be appropriate for mysterious scenes in some hard-boiled detective movie. Fantômas also strikes a darker tone than anything found on Kurr or Puzzle. Nowhere is this clearer than the title track "Fantômas," which is structured by ponderous, bent bass notes and the eerie sound of the water glasses Amiina has been using ever since the animamina EP. (Maybe we should have known the band had a dark streak, looking back at their rendition of "Doctor Finkelstein/In the Forest" for the Nightmare Revisited compilation!) Nevertheless, these developments all retain the same unerring musical sensibility and inventive instrumentation listeners have come to associate with Amiina. It is worth noting also that all the songs on Fantômas are purely instrumental, which represents another departure from many of the songs found on Kurr and Puzzle but recalls some of their early work. In any case, highest recommendations for Fantômas while we eagerly wait to see where the band's progression takes it next.