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.