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Pure Pop Records

014431064227

Details

Format: CD
Label: RYKODISC
Catalog: 10642
Rel. Date: 09/23/2003
UPC: 014431064227

Fire Theft
Artist: Fire Theft
Format: CD
New: Available now at the Record Store Used: In stock used at Record Store
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Reviews:

America may be a spoiled, wasteful country, but our indie rockers are nothing if not economical. Sooner or later, they recycle everything-and judging by the debut of the Fire Theft, "everything," apparently, includes the spaciest dregs of Yes, Genesis, and far lesser lights of '70s prog.

Where art rockers of yore valued complexity above all else, though, their newer counterparts fetishize sonic textures. And there's no denying that the Fire Theft-essentially Sunny Day Real Estate 2.0. with only guitarist Dan Hoerner missing from that defunct band's lineup-do polish some pretty surfaces. They're also fond of building, adding block after sonic block. The first track, "Uncle Mountain" opens with gentle strumming, then some percussion that sounds like a sneaker in a washing machine as heard from three apartments down the hall. Then violins, then piano, then the full onslaught. Though hardly averse to strings, the Fire Theft does avoid the full blown orchestral excesses SDRE toppled into, relying on keyboards and guitars to fill out their soundscapes.

Amidst this celestial wash, new guitarist Billy Dolan does his best to keep things earthy and direct. His guitar lines don't so much puncture the grandiosity as chatter on top of it-sometimes his lines stagger backward in a vaguely Eastern, Revolver like fashion; on "Oceans Apart" he worries a repetitive figure up and down as if deciding where to go next.

But Jeremy Enigk's vocals-utterly beautiful, utterly sexless-are the make-or-break element here. To those seeking high-pitched purity, he channels the music of the spheres. Personally when he waxes most fey, I want to organize an army of orcs to burn down Rivendell and flay the dude alive. Well-wishers may discern intimations of Thom Yorke in his quaver. The less supportive will hear Jon Anderson of Yes at his most disembodied or Robin Zander of Cheap Trick in full power ballad mode. I know, how else are you supposed to sing lyrics like "Lift back the veil that hides you from me"? (Then again, you could choose not to write those lyrics in the first place, but I digress.)

When it all comes together, as on "Houses," they can up the ante from merely pretty to breathtaking. And though Enigk does have trouble expressing simple sentiments without waxing cosmic, at least he follows up "The sun warms my mind/ The moon cools my toes" with a slightly more vernacular "Never mind the world/ While I'm laying by the pool." The overall effect here is one of being surprised by comfort, like a disaffected boho visiting his parents and being shocked to find that the suburbs can be kind of relaxing. Listen closely and you can practically hear the synchronized clicks of twenty-thousand cigarette lighters lofted skyward. Remember after the fire, after all the rain, they will be the flame.
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