Static Fires – ‘Thirteen’

By Andy Joice

There seems to be a real punk resurgence coming out of Wales at the moment. The likes of Neck Deep and Dream State have reminded us that we don’t have to rely on the old guard of Skindred, Bullet For My Valentine and Funeral For A Friend – so here’s another to add to the list of up and comers.

Hailing from the southern shores of Swansea, Static Fires are four old school friends who’ve been playing together since late 2014. Touring heavily off the back of their debut, self-titled EP, they’ve been hotly tipped in the Alt Rock scene, with comparisons to bands like Kings Of Leon.

Being misled almost from the off, new album ‘Thirteen’ opens with a folky, somewhat prog-rock intro before kicking straight into a bass heavy, Royal Blood styled tune. It sets the scene for the rest of the record – exceptional earworms with big, booming rhythm sections.

Arguably the most complete track, it’s easy to see why ‘Black Velvet’ was picked as the lead single. It’s the perfect example of what the band can do. With lead guitarist Jack Clements harmonising with lead vocalist Sam Randles, coupled with Jack Piper’s pounding drums, it’s possibly the most memorable song on the record – in no small part due to Tom Gibbins rolling bassline that brings stability and familiarity to the track. It’s like a passage through time, sending you back to mid-2000’s Breaking Benjamin before yoyo-ing back to Concrete And Gold era Foo Fighters.

‘Return’ opens with a twinkly piano melody before breaking into driving guitars. The intro offers a gentle reprise before leading into what’s potentially the catchiest chorus on the album. There’s a real honesty to the track, a song focusing on remorse; it’s a love letter to apologising and rebuilding. Randles gravelly voice really suits the subject matter, adding a certain amount of credence to the topic.

The record isn’t completely without flaws. Penultimate track ‘Blood Red’ opens with a chorus of wailing set to a gentle melody. As the song progresses, it gets predominantly heavier before closing with a similarly fuzzy end. But once the track hits what feels like its natural end, there’s another 40 odd seconds that’s essentially a slowed down, acoustic version of the chorus. It’s a little jarring, as if it’s the start of a new track that isn’t there. It’s not a major issue and may work for some people but feels ever so slightly indecisive.

Album closer ‘Fix Myself’ is by far the gentlest track on the record – a mellower, Red Hot Chili Pepper-esque song with jangly guitars that shows a potential new turn for follow up records. Featuring female backing vocals, there’s a much lighter tone that isn’t necessarily apparent in earlier tracks.

As a debut album, it’s definitely got a lot of catchy songs, all clumped together – with plenty to commend, some extravagantly catchy songs and definite progression from their first EP. ‘Thirteen’ is a refreshing listen that warrants a deeper dive.

ANDY JOICE

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