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Staggering in a jagged line - all around this glorious equator line...
The Golden Hour - Firewater
Member Name: MagdaDH
The Golden Hour - Firewater
Date: 10/07/12, updated on 11/07/12 (45 review reads)
Advantages: vibrant, angry, alive
Disadvantages: none at all
Over the following ten years Firewater created tracks and albums of impressive range. However decent that material was, it didn't compare to the 2008 album ''Golden Hour''. This was created after (or rather, during) Mr Tod's self-imposed exile-cum-journey he started in 2005 after a divorce and the Americans electing George W. Bush for the second term. ''Golden Hour'' is a wonderful album that truly delivers on all the promises of Firewater's earlier offerings, and much more besides. Combining the very much ''alternative'', post-punk rock roots with various world influences from Balkan to ska, klezmer, cabaret and all kinds of Asian sounds, it is interesting, energetic and full of angry joy.
Tod A apparently recorded with local musicians on the way; from Sufi bands in India to Pakistani drummers to Turkish and Israeli musicians who formed a significant proportion of the final album's (and the following tour) line-up. The result is a fantastic album; incredibly vibrant, alive, pulsating with rhythms and themes of the world travelled but ultimately still referencing the American background of its main creator.
As cool as cool gets, Tod A's rasping voice and wry, depressive-with-a-hint-of-hope lyrics invite comparisons to Tom Waits, and this - as much because of the vocals as a bohemian cabaret strand in the music - is quite ostensibly true. I am, however, often put in mind of The The's Matt Johnson, perhaps less through the sound and more through the general mood of the vocals.
Lyrically (and to some extent musically), this album is a journey, starting with a dream of leaving in ''Borneo'' and (almost) finishing with the return to the US in ''Weird to be Back''. The lyrics will appeal to angry and depressed late teens and 20-somethings but even your reviewer, closer in age to Tod A than I imagine his his typical audience to be, liked the poetry, black humour and quite grown-up wry desperation (but not as self-indulgent as some earlier Firewater tracks were). If somebody needs a proof that going away is, sometimes, therapeutic, ''Golden Hour'' is as good as it gets.
Musically, ''The Golden Hour'' is a lively, and I would even say quite danceable album, bouncing across the world in a somewhat delirious (not to say stoned) way. I can't recognise the musical instruments played, but there are Indian and Middle Eastern climates aplenty along with more Eastern European, klezmer and gypsy sounds; all encrusted on the solid post-punk background. You'd be best to listen, but if you imagine the Pogues with the Irish folk influence replaced by (a much more exciting IMHO) Asian and Balkan sounds, and think you'll like it, try ''Golden Hour''.
Some tracks sound more, well, American ("Hey Clown", "Three Legged Dog"), others - the better ones I think -present more of a mixture. ''Six-Fort-Five'', a drunken melancholy coloured by tropical sunsets; ''This Is My Life'', a pulsating bhangraish dance rhythm underlying a wail of disillusioned despair; ''Weird to be Back'', a jaunty reverse-culture-shock jingle with an undercurrent of rage; a slower and more lyrical ''Paradise'' which appears to present an insight into a young suicide bomber's soul (or anyway this is my reading) with a haunting tune.
Among the best tracks are ''Borneo'', a lively, angry, energetically hypnotic (if there is such a thing) gem of a track which lyrically dreams of the wilderness (Tod A did in fact go and live in Bali for a while, I am not sure about swinging from the banyan trees) and snarls at Dubya; a slower and more melancholy Eastern European-influenced tune '' Some Kind of Kindness'' which is lyrically among the best and which, in not-entirely-clear way reminded me of The The's ''Kingdom of Rain''; and finally, as for now (though this keeps changing), my absolute favourite, ''Already Gone'', a finger-in-the-face of everybody, gypsy influenced anthem ideal for those thinking of leaving it all and ''burning all the bridges goodbye''.
All in all - in case you are in any doubt - I absolutely loved ''The Golden Hour''. For some reason it appears as to be released on CD in July 2012 on the UK Amazon, but it's been out since 2008 and is available for download for example on emusic.com. Firewater's new album ''International Orange'' comes out in the autumn of 2012, I can't wait.
[the title of this review comes from the ''Already Gone'' lyrics]
Summary: brilliant album