Monday, May 18, 2015

Broken Fires – A Band Review

      Broken Fires released their debut album, “Silhouettes,” and we are fans. There isn’t a weak link among the eleven songs, but of course we have our favorites. This band from Wales (Swansea) self-identifies the music as Folk Rock of “simple alternative Pop songs with big melodies.” Indie Obsessive clearly recognizes the Rock and Pop elements and is particularly fond of the “big melodies” component in the band’s sound. The Folk element is less apparent, although it surfaces in selected songs.
     Bands will sometimes talk about their difficulty in selecting the order of tracks on an album. In “Silhouettes,” strong arguments can be made for and against positioning “Flesh & Blood” after “Brick.Mortar.Stone.” Melodically, the two songs have much in common, which can lead a listener to wrongly conclude that the album lacks diversity. On the other hand, the individual tracks include transitions that show the flexibility of Broken Fires, so the melodic flow in positioning “Brick.Mortar.Stone” adjacent to “Flesh & Blood” will be appreciated after a listener becomes more familiar with the album.
     An unmistakable sign that an album is “solid” is when selecting a track to feature seems easy while listening to one candidate track, but changes when the next candidate starts. The first four songs of “Silhouettes” are deserving of a feature, as is “Vessels.” We picked “Brick.Mortar.Stone” only because it contains the greatest number of features we appreciate.
     “Brick.Mortar.Stone” is an anthem. The lyrics include “And he said ‘No, this is my home, every brick I have made my own.’”  The song starts unassumingly and finishes with force. There are a number of energy transitions, with our favorite starting at the 2:01 mark as a kick drum and a chant of what “he said” take us from a quiet statement to a shouted conviction.
    Broken Fires often uses seemingly anguished backing vocals. In “Brick.Mortar.Stone,” the first occurrence begins at 1:18. The anguish is again felt at 2:34, but within the lead vocals. It is very effective. Add the sounds of horns and strings, and the result is a song that will not lose its attractiveness after repeated plays.
     The core members of Broken Fires are Tom Stephens, Gareth Carter and Justin Hendy. The Facebook picture shows six individuals. We don’t know the names of the other three, but based on information from their Bandcamp uploads, contributors are Angharad Jenkins, Dai Francis, Chris Seacombe, Adam Terry and Sam Loring.


      “Flesh & Blood”

     “Out of the Woods”

Silhouettes” - Digipack CD
1. Elephants
2. Brick.Mortar.Stone
3. Flesh & Blood
4. Out of the Woods
5. Brand New Start
6. Broken Bones
7. Our House (cover - written by Graham Nash)
8. Charming
9. Vessels
10. Family Ties
11. This Place Is Dead Anyway

FLESH & BLOOD - Lyrics
by Broken Fires

Sometimes he can be strong,
Robust roadways of oxygen, there's strength within.
He should stand up tall.
Like the pillars of a hotel or a sequin dress in a formal hall.
He can hardly wait.
To get his teeth deep into you, or just talk a bit,
A deft seductive touch.
Or the clumsy hand of a working man,
Just enough to put you off.

What are we then?
But bone and skin.
What are we then? When the words come out but they make no sense?
Still we need some flesh and blood to hold.

He needs her in the dark,
Skin so soft it reverses days and it eases him.
Conceal that rush of blood.
Stay cold on the outside. Sweatless, calm an attractive act.
Her body near. Shadows and darkness cover him.
And from her mouth these words, just enough to put you off.

What are we then?
But bone and skin.
What are we then? When the words come out but they make no sense?
Still we need some flesh and blood to hold.

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