Review Summary: Left Fire rips and tears at times, and purrs gently at others; rather like a large, irritable cat, Arcane Roots seem contempt to the idea of sitting in one spot too often.I sat down, sipping near-scalding Lady Grey tea slowly from an enormous mug, thoughtful. Ten o'clock, the sky long since dark, as the winter approaches all too rapidly. It was that time of the evening again, time to sit and listen to an album properly. Not commute- or study-listening, but properly, with my full attention. Questioning which album to listen to, what was resonating with me tonight, I glance up from the CD rack: on my wall, pinned to the overused board typical of student accommodation, were the tickets to an Arcane Roots concert. Something clicked, and I searched through my music library, quickly finding the album I now craved to play. Reminiscent, slightly heavy-heartedly, I returned to the beginning; that EP, the one that mesmerised me but a couple of years ago, leading me to find what would quickly become one of my favourite bands…
still surprises me, especially as a debut EP. The drastic changes in style from one song to the next, one moment
to the next, creates the illusion that the short and succinct 35-minute runtime is covering more ground than some hour-long behemoths, and without sounding even slightly erratic. Take, for example, ‘Million Dollar Question’. Beginning with ripping and complex riffs on guitar and bass, roaring vocals from Groves, and drums to match, it really is a microcosm of the whole album, switching fluently and rapidly between this starting heaviness and the restrained tranquillity of the next part, the signature math-rock time signature changes. It crescendos to the furiously chanted “I can’t see it, I can’t see it, I can’t see it!” before giving way to the near-acapella calm of the 30-second ‘Habibity’.
The EP was really a map of the next four years for Arcane Roots; from the heartfelt, anthemic end to ‘Long & Low’, the chunky, stabbing guitars in ‘Habibity [Extended]’ we would see in abundance two years later, this showcases the ideas being poured out into their respective parts of the pallete, ready for a brush to direct them later. That’s not to say Left Fire
seems messy; far from it. The musicianship shown throughout guides the listener, the lyrics consistent and poetic, even if the general song-writing is in need of some minor refinement. I admit, perhaps I look through rose-tinted glasses, so I will remove them for a moment; alas, this record also shows some of the band’s flaws. ‘Rouen’, one of the best tracks here, has repetitive lyrics towards the end, which admittedly detract from the splendid instrumentation going on underneath. This recycling of a line or two throughout the extended play makes it somewhat formulaic at times. Contrary to that, however, interlude ‘Home’ uses this to great effect, the distant singing echoing while Arcane wrap up ‘You Are’ musically. ‘In This Town of Such Weather’ is an interesting enough track, but is not half as memorable as some of the other tracks. It is the perfect introduction however, lead into masterfully by the two-minute ‘Aus Blauderen…’ and acting as a synopsis of the coming thirty minutes. Unfortunately, as synopses often are, it is lacking in the details that make the other tracks so catchy and varied, and hence falls flat in comparison.
rips and tears at times, and purrs gently at others; rather like a large, irritable cat, Arcane Roots seem contempt to the idea of sitting in one spot too often. Perhaps that jumpy nature is what makes this EP so memorable to me; far from their definitive work, it sure makes an interesting listen. I still find myself humming the riff in the bridge of ‘Million Dollar Question’, drumming out the copious beats throughout the whole sprawling EP. Groves’ heartfelt and honest voice takes the centre-stage whenever he decrees it; able to sing about practically anything and make it sound true
. There is no better example than the final line of the original edition; ‘So won’t you pick me up again"’ he asks, and if you listen carefully, very carefully, he leaves off with a small laugh.