Firekites are a group that truly defy categorisation into a genre. Actually, they defy most of the typical characteristics of popular music.
What do you call someone from Newcastle? No idea. Anyway, Firekites have a new record. Listen to it.
After their debut earned high praise for an all-round elaborate approach, the revolving collective of musos are poised to release their second album. With the mere seven tracks of indie-folk-meets-lo-fi-jazz-meets-electronica weighing in at over 45 minutes, things can only get more intricate.
Formed in Newcastle, New South Wales in 2005 as an acoustic two-piece, Firekites grew to incorporate numerous other established artists, including Jane Tyrell from The Herd and Jason Tampake from Josh Pyke’s backing band. Their first album The Bowery was released in 2008, half of which was written in an abandoned coffee shope slash bookstore of the same name.
Characterised by intertwining guitars and vocal harmonies, The Bowery featured the J-award nominated video for Autumn Story. Assembled from 1910 individual chalk drawings, it was impressive enough to be blogged by Yeezus himself. The symbiotic melodies and handclaps of their first effort generated a certain warmth amongst the melancholy, but their new album Closing Forever Sky has taken a turn towards the darker side.
The titular track opens the album with a three-minute instrumental intro that teeters between dreamy and eerie. It leads into Silversun Pickups-esque hushed vocals, with unnerving samples and distorted guitar melodies amongst the sprawl. Twinkling keys feature to add sweetness, as the track segues from one grand soundscape to another in typical Firekites style.
Fallen sees the electric guitars swapped out for acoustic, meeting brooding strings and pulsing percussion. The track softens to a second act, before building again with the addition of heavier guitars. With each track it is clear that Firekites have mastered the dreamy, atmospheric fade-out.
The dichotomy of male/female vocals exhibited on the first album return on the haunting epic The Counting. Searing guitar work builds tension; the emotion swelling in and out until the pressure is released as the track cascades towards more soothing piano and strings.
Fifty Secrets features an electronic beat that replaces the fingerclicks and handclaps of theirearlier work, while on Somewhere Bright First, whispery yet assured vocals declare that “all I really need is you” amongst a dreamy landscape. The opera fades once more to a musical low point, before rebuilding with layers of guitars, percussion and ominous gusts that generate a more foreboding tone.
Said Without A Sound follows with a brief (by Firekites standards) instrumental that still manages to pack in all the feels of the longer vocal tracks. Finally Antidote leaves the album at perhaps its most optimistic; the closing bars ruminate with high-pitched keys.
With their intertwined guitars and vocals choreographed into harmony, Firekites broach upon indie folk. But without traditional folk strumming, and with layers of violin, distorted guitars and electronic beats thrown in the mix, they soar above in a realm of their own. Out August 15 through Spunk records, Closing Forever Sky vows to keep the sprawling soundscapes alight.
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