Indie-pop outfit merges cosmic sounds with all too real perspectives on earthly life
After many a successful festival outing, London five-piece Firestations took their time with their follow-up to 2014's debut Never Closer, and this creative percolation shows on The Year Dot, a record whose thematic nuance rewards repeated listenings. Recorded over three years in a small home studio in Walthamstow, The Year Dot manages to negotiate its DIY credentials with a richness of subject and sound that recalls Yo La Tengo at their most spacey and contemplative.
While 'Lightning Strike' and 'Pyramid Scheme' continue the absorbing, alt-pop vein of Never Closer, the band push us towards pulsing, neo-psych territory on 'Old Letters', and tighten things up on bright, catchy tracks like 'Build a Building' and 'Receiver'. 'Blue Marble' alludes to Carl Sagan's famous 'pale blue dot': a photograph of the Earth suspended in cosmic abyss. With dreamy, clean guitars, celestial percussion and hazy melodies, Firestations present that sense of worldly vulnerability in synth-driven glimpses of the sublime. At times bittersweet, laced with languorous passages while elsewhere charged with energy, the record feels both collective and personal, a statement of lost time and contemporary urgency.
The Year Dot, of course, means 'a long time ago'. Much of the album is glazed in nostalgia, but as its lyrical textures solidify, more and more details appear, wistful and clear, in the cracks. This is high-definition indie, refining its humble, lo-fi inspirations. Covering everything from the rise of right-wing politics to dead-end jobs, urban living and sci-fi solutions to human mortality, the record probes the reveries and complexities of everyday life.
It's possible to just sink into the familiar solace of such honeyed, electro-indie tones, but The Year Dot also has a critical heft: pursuing ambitious social commentaries while playfully teasing its own sonic glitches.
Out Fri 6 Apr on Lost Map