90FM Album Review: Flashbulb Fires - "Gasconader"
Mitch Sluzewski
mitchell.j.sluzewski@uwsp.edu





I’m going to feel very hipster for saying this, but Flashbulb Fires is this really cool indie band you prob­ably haven’t heard of out of Denver, Colorado. OK, now you’ve all heard of them so I can stop being a hip­ster. Flashbulb Fires has this really cool, upbeat style that reminds me of bands like Circa Survive, Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys, and Tokyo Police Club. They broke onto the indie scene in 2009 with their first album Glory. It was well received in the few reviews I found, personally I found it middling. In comparison to their new album Gascondader, Glory had a great concept but lacked the confi­dence that they have now brought to the table.

This brings us to the album I’m reviewing this week, Gasconader. The first thing that grabbed my atten­tion was the vocals. Lead vocalist Patrick McGuire has a swing to his voice reminiscent of ‘50’s soda-pop, schwoozy and melodic, which he fits into the indie style surprisingly well. The instrumentation is varied but typically has guitars, drum set, and a keyboard, fairly standard there but they include brass and strings for some tracks as well. The overall style I would describe as imaginative yet grounded by the vocals. In this respect I liken them to Arcade Fire as both have whimsical backdrops to vocals that generate the intensity. However, the album is set at a fairly slow pace that drags if you aren’t lis­tening to the album in its entirety, but key tracks make up for it and keep the album alive.

My favorite tracks of the album are “Serious Way”, “I Beat My Body Down”, and “Dark Ghost (I’ve Got Arms”. “I Beat My Body Down” is the starting track and it sets the pace with its laid back yet strong style. “I’ve Got Arms” brings a more upbeat style and leaves you with a melody you will be whistling for the rest of the day. “Serious Way” is my favorite track of the album. It is the second to last track and by this point McGuire is winding down the narra­tive of his religiously divided fam­ily. “Serious Way” is slower paced but the vocals hit the emotions hard, especially in the chorus “I will help you out: when you’re on your way down: like a cigarette lit up”. Gives me shivers every time. So bringing it all together I would say Gasconader by Flashbulb Fires is a neat little album definitely worth checking out.