We Start Fires - Caught Redhanded

Bill Cummings 15/09/2004

Rating: 4/5

The female fronted alt-indie-pop-punk band We Start Fires hail from Darlington and want something better than "music as commodity" they're sick of "boring indie boys like Keane and monosyllabic retro heads like Jet. "they want "rock n roll bands that have read some books!" they want "thrills and sexiness" and "some ladies back on the scene." For these laudable aims We Start fires are on a winner with me before Iv heard a note of their debut album.

Haling from a back water in England isn't pretty and We Start Fires set out a manifesto similar in style to that of early Kenickie or the Manic Street Preachers in style. When boredom strikes what else can you do but "strap on a guitar and try to change the world as it is to you? What else can you do when you're told exactly what to consume except create your own culture." As editor of GITTV zine I echo all of these aims and its refreshing to read them in a press release, rather than the standard band biog nonsense.

The album itself begins with the addictive 60's punky style melodies and Hammond keyboard lines of "Bang Bang" its a beautiful effort, and possible single material kick off an highly individualistic album each song standing alone. Elsewhere "Next Exit has a vibrant post punk feel, moog synths are allied to a thumping punk pop riffage, and gorgeous female vocalising (think female group's like Fuzzbox or Elastica not Busted!). "Queen Bee" is a change of pace again building piano's and bass lines reach a climax as Becky Stefani's (FrontLady) brooding vocals come in, before growing into a abrasively feminine empowered chorus of "You don't know who I am/I'v got questions there are no answers." Its a delightfully melodious effort and one of the best tracks on the disk.

"Dolls House" is the point where the lyrics of hole for example "I'm a doll wife in a doll's house!" meet the musical twee-ness of a Belle and Sebastian style strum, "Studied Subjects that I'll never need /Maths ! Science !English" Becky's questioning feministic word shine through here (Is this all that you dreamed Of?"), this track is perhaps the most personal and political on the record whilst retaining its freshness through its use of a cracking melody and a glut of piano's, guitars and beats. This is placed alongside the spunkiness of the title track, and the jittering and melodic elegant "Ruby Slippers." There are some repeated themes however the punk thrill of To the Shade only mirror's Bang Bang, and When you fall also seems to revisit some relationship angst. Ender "Black Out's" rriot girl styling is mixed with the electro keyboards of Siousxe and the Banshee's makes for a sneering sign off.

This is a really fabulous debut effort that really shows off We Start Fires at their best they clearly have a refreshing talent and most importantly the style wit and brains to go with it. In parts this album does repeat itself retreading musically and lyrically similar paths but overall not since Kenickie , or Elastica has their been a pop-punk-indie band of such promise and beauty, if we start fires are in the gutter staring at the stars I for one will join them.