Review Summary: Depressing the shit out of you, one beautiful track at a time.
Ian Kenny has been an interesting person to watch these past few years. He’s had two wildly successful bands surface in Australia and shows literally no signs of letting up. He constantly works with one group or the other, answering the prayers of one fan base and frustrating the fans of the other. While there are those of us who are perfectly happy with him simply working on something
, as of late, the prog fans have watched with sad puppy eyes as he has focused attention on his more indie rock fetishes. As of the beginning of 2013, he will have made two LPs and one EP with Birds of Tokyo since the masterpiece Sound Awake
released with Karnivool in 2009. It’s quite amazing to watch the drastically different directions he’s chartered both bands. With Birds of Tokyo, he’s opted away from the catchier and heavier alternative rock we saw in their stellar sophomore album Universes
. The 2010 self-titled album slowed the pace down a bit, with more ambient songs and This Fire
serves as a continuation of that direction, offering a brief glimpse of what we could expect from their next LP in 2013.
The new EP truly is uncharted territory for the band. Its song structures are spacious and drawn out, with more synthesized sounds to create a brooding, almost bittersweet atmosphere. The songs all progress from softer, serene beginnings into emotional chants, the best example being the opening title track where the pace changes from quieter percussions and guitars into Kenny’s rebellious chorus of “This fire, this fire, this fire, we let it all burn” . Kenny’s vocals sound more relaxed and have further delved into the softer side, as he carries his heavenly voice effortlessly over the organ in the opening verses of “Boy”. It creates a mood that can be quite depressing at times, with lyrics like “even on cold days, my door’s always open, where gray is enough light to colour my world”. But that’s just the direction Ian Kenny has taken the band in; we saw this in their self-titled back in 2010 where they opened with the song “Plans”. This Fire
is an EP full of songs similar to that, and it shows a band starting to discover new strengths as they veer away from conventional rock.
This EP is a collection of four beautiful songs that show a band experimenting with their sound and being excited by the results. Now let’s see if they can scale that up to a full album later on.