Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Fires Of: "The Noise Around the Mean" (EP review)

EPs can be dangerous things for music fans.  On one hand it can be a great way to explore a band quickly, often leading to discovering new favorites.  On the other hand, it can sucker you into spending time on a band that only has a handful of good ideas.

So what are we to make of The Noise Around the Mean, the forthcoming EP from Toronto's The Fires Of.  Coming out on February 14th, it's the second EP from the quintet.

On the surface, there's not a whole lot that The Fires Of bring to the table that we haven't heard before.  There's boundless energy, an indie rock attitude, and decent power pop hooks.  Where the band set themselves apart is in the way they take each of these components and repackage them into something fresh.

The trading off of lead vocals is a source of incredible strength for the band.  One can't help but think of Emily Haines when Lisa Di Diodato takes the reins.  Graeme Donnelly's style is even more compelling.  His tone is part Gord Downie, part Ben Gibbard, all delivered with the aplomb of Murray Lightburn.

Maybe even more striking than the leads is the backing vocals.  When they aren't front-and-centre Donnelly and Di Diodato do a remarkable job providing those supporting textures.  It's those that make songs like "Memories In Flight" special.

Peyton Leung is a bit of a secret weapon playing violin and providing percussion.  His contributions aren't obvious, but they simmer beneath the surface and are a key reason "Somebody Tell Me I'm Dreaming" provides such an incendiary epic finale.

It's too early to judge how The Fires Of will fair on the EP trap.  The Noise Around The Mean definitely has them headed in the right direction though.

The Fires Of play a CD Release show at Lee's Palace in Toronto on February 18th.

Best tracks: "I Can't Sleep", "Somebody Tell Me I'm Dreaming"

Track listing for The Noise Around The Mean:
  • Memories In Flight
  • I Can't Sleep
  • One Decent Thing
  • Sleeping In
  • Somebody Tell Me I'm Dreaming

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