Review Summary: And I never thought I would appreciate the function of a cd player over spin tables.
Originating from Massachusetts, Lyres were maybe the one 80s band that came so close to recapture the rockabilly stripped down sound and the aesthetics of the British invasion. That’s not only due to the fact that two Kink tunes or a couple more originating from Pete Best and New Colony Six were covered; it’s not even due to the organ retro driven sound of Conolly impregnating 60s all over the place. It is evident in the originals present in their debut release “On Fyre”, capturing the essence of the aforementioned scenes, with a gritty twist more befitting the punkish nature of a rhythm section - drummer Paul Murphy and bassist Rick Coraccio - formerly part of DMZ. Still, the voice and driving force is Jeff Conolly. Expect the rawish production, trebly frequencies all over, live in-studio recording approach… a loose yet punchy rhythmic feel - garage stuff.
If it were not for the ill-natured stalky lyrics of “Help you Ann”, this album could find its place back in 1965 - somewhere on British soil, but that sinister twist of content makes me presume that the Lyres, could be an alloy of the original Sonics plus Question Mark & The Mysterians, who succumbed into a different version of the Philadelphia experiment, reappearing 20 years later.
“Don’t give it up now” with its beat music influenced guitar opener, brings to mind Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, soon giving way to the - oh so promising - Lyres sound. In equal parts muddy/defined, mental/healthy, retro/intro – ductional. Lyres care to remind us that they like the Kinks even when not covering their tunes. In “I’m telling you girl”, a jam during what follows the intro, sounds like a gal really got Conolly on speed, and he decided to psyche it out with Lyres - it lasts less than two minutes. Now, there is a fine limit between a relaxed beat and off-rhythm; these guys stroll around this edge, sometimes, threatening to fall over - maybe because the eaves are “Soapy” or maybe because they want to sound that way; nonetheless, it’s not my cup of tea when they do so.
There is also a fine limit of cover ratio that can deter overall value when exceeded. An equal percentage of adequate to good covers, providing the backbone for this release makes me stroll around slippery ledges too you know. So, some tracks on side B would disrupt the heart steady beat of Boston’s suburbia, four tracks ranging around the pass mark or a hint higher and an intro cluster of superb originals keeping me hard steady from falling, may rank "On Fyre" a necessary purchase for all the garage-rock enthusiasts, or all those who seek out a convincing retrospective 80s glimpse to the 60s. The rest may want to keep the skip button handy after the first bunch, though if they miss them, they are in for a huge loss.
As for me, I never thought I would appreciate the function of a cd player over spin tables, and if the couple of “Don’t Give it up Now” and “Help you Ann” were singles, I confess that I would be hitting the five button hard in an effort to court them.