Mainly Genius


Review: Firesuite – You’re an Ocean Deep, My Brother
March 24, 2011, 2:50 pm
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I often (read: seldom to never) get unsolicited music sent to me in one form or another and, to be quite frank, I often listen, sigh and move on. However, this time I was struck by the comment attached to said music and decided to heed it. It’s wasn’t particularly innovating or clever and in fact read ‘we’d love to hear your thoughts’. Now I support the movement of flattery and I appreciate it to the fullest extent (‘someone wants to hear my thoughts?! Well, how very kind…’), but it must’ve been a full moon or something as I’m not normally thrust into action just on the strength of a direct command from a band I’ve not yet heard.

On the whole, I try to avoid posting negative reviews – it’s fairly exhausting and in the end doesn’t benefit anybody – but on this occasion I decided to offer my thoughts whatever they may eventually become.

So here we go – the unfortunate recipients are Sheffield based band Firesuite and their debut album You’re and Ocean Deep, My Brother. Released on the 14th March, they describe themselves as “a battle between Buddy Rich and Animal, a mid 30’s chanteuse and Django [Reinhardt] orchestrating complex lead melodies on bass.” Let’s see…

First impressions are good – as is often the case in recent times, the production and sound quality of the record are excellent. Presenting your music in the best possible light should be a no-brainer and whilst it is the songs that have the deciding vote, it’s very difficult to enjoy them if you’re unable to listen to more than 30 seconds at a time. As the old saying goes – ‘you can’t polish a turd’.

You can, however, sprinkle it with glitter and musically speaking, You’re an Ocean… feels a little sparkly. There are some great moments, no doubt – Stay is a highly-recommended heart wrencher and Amity is a post-rock powerhouse that weaves between UNKLE, Jeff Buckley and This Will Destroy You in storming fashion.

However, it’s interesting to note that these said highlights remain unblemished (or unaffected) by the over zealous distorted guitars that bruise the rest of the album. The intentions are good – and I’m all for heavy guitars – but there’s just something about their sound and their feel that sticks out and doesn’t really sit with the free (free-er?) and brighter style that surrounds them. Objectively and on paper, it should work. But as with this troublesome game, things don’t often come out as planned.

And coming in at ten songs long seems ambitious and by the time If Only Time Were Distance comes around, the album begins to drag and seems to lose focus. Left Hand Never Moves and the instrumental ­Sci-Fi Lullaby feel too much like padding and mid-album anomaly Sammy Davis Jr Jr would be more at home as an old Nirvana B-side than in the midst of a atmospheric rock/pop album.

As a result of this, there’s a strong case to be put forward for a slimmed down – and consequently much stronger and more engaging – EP here, and that old adage ‘less is more’ has a bit too much resonance for comfort. An EP would’ve given more space for growth and would’ve also put less pressure on the record to deliver.

If I was judging You’re an Ocean Deep, My Brother  as  an six or seven track record I’ve no doubt that this review would’ve been a whole lot more positive. There are some really great moments in pockets across the record – Amity is a particular highlight, Forever December another – and in actual fact, that’s what makes it ever so slightly worse. There’s clear talent in the songwriting and the production values add a whole other dimension of professionalism to the band, but these aren’t consistent enough across ten songs and forty minutes.

They remind me of another band I reviewed a long while ago and I’d love for these guys to come back in 6 months time with two fingers stuck up and a more engaging album that strips away the uncertainty and unnecessary album tracks and focuses on the eye for detail and emotion that make Stay and Amity such outstanding highlights.

Overall, it’s not all bad, I’ve been picky and highlighted the shortcomings. There’s definite potential but I do think there is room for that to be exploited on You’re an Ocean Deep, My Brother. As it is though, it’s worth grabbing for the songs below (Forever December­ and Of Little Faith too) – approach with caution not expectation, and you’ll probably enjoy yourself.

Visit Firesuite on MySpace or Facebook

Get the album via Bandcamp

Below are album standouts Stay and Amity. Both are top tracks with post-rock cracker Amity showing off what Firesuite are really capable of.

Firesuite – Amity

Firesuite – Stay

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