Self Released (2011)
Out of 5
I’ll begin this review with some background information. It’s 1 AM, I feel deathly ill, and I have put this review off until the last minute. Fire in the Northern Firs is (mentally, at least) preparing for their CD Release Show tomorrow at Hell’s Kitchen, and I am bed-ridden, with a serious case of some sort of influenza, or perhaps bronchitis. The weather is shitty, and I feel as though I am going to die.
Field Guide is the perfect album to die too. As I sit here hacking up all sorts of sweet stuff, the E.P. starts to play. Currents of reverb introduce the first track, “Weather Machine”, and the drums enter, followed by the bass and guitar. The first thirty seconds or so of the E.P. suggest that this is going to be a new wave outfit somewhere around the vein of The Cure, and then Carin Barno’s vocal melody hints at a shoegaze vibe that falls into line with the reverb soaked white noise in the background. It seems strange that the former member of First Communion After Party waited so long to drop this most recent band, but perhaps it is a sign that Fire in the Northern Firs spent far more time perfecting their craft than any of their First Communion After Party peers have. Firs comes off as less of an attempt at former glory than the start of something new with far more potential than was ever fully realized.
Both the consistency and variety of styles covered on Field Guide is surprising, but always comfortable. “Flavor Savior”, beginning with the always risky delayed bass effect, has a Krautrock romp that would have fit in well with the Post-Punk revival of the early 2000’s. Carin’s voice sounds as though it is coming through the other end of a telephone, and her vocal melody is followed by explosive tremolo guitar picking that allows the song to erupt into incredible excitement.
What the Firs excel at the most is sonic textures. These textures can turn a pop song like “Something to Write Home About” into a shoegaze freakout. And so as I sit here, possibly about to die from the flu or pneumonia or whatever the fuck I have, I am greeted with swirls of wonderful chaos, always ending in surprising silence, as Field Music by Fire in the Northern Firs draws to a close.
Standout Tracks: “Weather Machine”