After two years of relentless touring in support of their debut album, Flashbulb Fires sought inspiration and solace deep in the mountains of Colorado to begin work on a new collection of songs. Taking in the scope of their surroundings, they were moved to create something bigger and more daring than their previous work. It wasn’t an effort to indulge, but rather, to capture. The result is GASCONADER, a vivid glowing statement.
The band’s first LP was known for being a bold and brooding narrative that took aim at the dark underbelly of suburban-American culture. Called “one of the best indie-rock albums of the year” by Des Moines City View and “emotional and engulfing” by Dallas Morning News, Glory (2009) remains an intimate reflection of spiritual conflict woven among heartbreaking brass and echoing vocal harmony. Yet, within the stirring and impassioned performances that encompass Flashbulb Fires' debut album, there are moments where something more grandiose is lurking just beneath the surface. These moments read like illusive musical promises that whisper of an impending harmonic bravado. In fact, the narrative that found its beginnings on Glory had only just taken root. GASCONADER is the culmination of those promises and every bit the triumphant kaleidoscopic pop that Flashbulb Fires hinted at on their first record.
GASCONADER is a distinct modern take on a seemingly nostalgic voice. It evokes moments of Motown and 80’s pop that are quickly twisted and decapitated into more sinister versions of the originals. The textures are hazy and swirling and at times the band delves into a vandal-graffiti inspired punk ethos full of charisma and dramatic flare. When the smoke clears, there is just enough space for singer Patrick McGuire’s intimate melodies and the distant harmony of a ghostly choir.
The album is not only large in breadth sonically, but also thematically as it skirts the boundaries of the “concept album” definition. GASCONADER takes a biting satirical look at a religious culture so prevalent in modern Middle America. The album’s bombastic narrator, a steadfast evangelical, boastfully proclaims his own righteousness and begs a lover to see the light before the impending rapture. McGuire’s lyrics and characters are informed by his own conflicted past, one in which he was shuttled perpetually between his Catholic father and Mormon mother. Now an atheist, the singer explores his lingering struggle to connect in a meaningful way with old friends and family along with the hypocrisy of the culture he grew up in.
GASCONADER's principal narrator, as well as the music itself, embodies the aptly named album, its personality and tone full of surly magnetism and fearless swagger. With the release of their latest record, Flashbulb Fires undoubtedly cements their unique voice as a modern American band.
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