It would not be surprising if the name FlashFires rang a bell even if their sounds were a mystery because of the potent buzz that has been brewing up around them, certainly over the past six months or so. A couple of recent singles gave a good hint as to why the enthused reaction to their emergence and now the UK band’s debut EP brings the strongest evidence yet. A thoroughly engaging proposition with a sound lying somewhere between indie pop and rock, the Play EP makes a refreshing and fascinating full introduction to the young band.
Hailing from Basingstoke, FlashFires was formed by a quintet of school friends who aged nineteen to twenty, brought their skills and imagination together for a band swiftly inviting local attention and appetites. They were soon playing venues along the South Coast as an eager fan base grew around them, increasing their reputation all the time as they proceeded to gain slots at the Alresford Festival, Blissfields, and a headline slot at the B’Stoke Live show this last year. A song called ManShark in 2012 brought the band to the notice of Angry Badger Records, the independent label signing them up the following year as plans to record an album were put in place. Linking up with Tesla bassist Brian Wheat at J Street Recording Studios in California that September, the band set about recording a collection of songs produced by Wheat who was so impressed he expressed an interest in co-managing the band with Jules of Angry Badger Records. It was a union concluded by early 2014 as the band continued to lure focus and praise through a live presence seeing them playing with the likes of Catfish And The Bottlemen, The Telescreen, The Birthday Suit (Idlewild), and The Rifles to date. Last November FlashFires released acclaimed debut single Circus Boy, a potent lure followed recently by its successor Shy. Now Play is set to make its mark on a national awareness and reinforce the claim of vocalist Alex Gonzato that “We have been moving to bigger and better things recently, the hunger and drive in the band keeps us moving forward all the time”.
The release opens with 31, a song quickly luring ears with thumping beats within a melodic coaxing of guitar. It is not a dramatic start but a potent one, continuing as the expressive tones of Gonzato step into the weave of restrained yet firmly inviting enterprise cast by the guitars of Fraser Roskilly and Jon Cullis. The song continues to engage and embrace ears with its colourful melodies and more shadowed hues brought by the bass of Liam Kinslow and speared by the crisp beats of drummer Toby Bartlett. It is a warm and welcoming start to the EP, one bringing a slight whiff of Americana to its air, but in hindsight not carrying enough of the creative drama which inflames the following songs starting with Shy.
The band’s current single almost flirts with ears through its opening strokes of guitar, turning that suggestiveness into a stronger captivating texture as sharp hooks start to line the track’s creativity. There is snappiness to the encounter which was not exactly lacking its predecessor but certainly defused, whilst harmonies and melodies seem to have an even spicier colouring to their inventive embrace of punchy rhythms. Hints of Muse equally add intrigue and adventure to the infectious proposition before it makes away for the sultry presence of Lingo. With a great grizzled bass tone aligning to another impressive dance of jabbing beats from Bartlett, the track makes an imagination sparking start which only erupts in greater temptation through a contagiously imaginative chorus. It is fair to say that none of the songs on the EP explode into out and out raucousness and adrenaline driven revelry yet the song certainly leaves you breathless by the end of its wonderfully unpredictable adventure.
It is the pinnacle of the release though shares that plateau with the following You Say Nothing. Its opening hook has ears and appetite seduced whilst the quickly joining melodic wine dripping from guitar strings brings a scent of Dire Straits to the proposal. It is an alluring entrance which continues to expand as band and song entangle bluesy rock ‘n’ roll with a strain of more classically cultured rock as well as a power pop/punk essence. The outstanding song is simply catchy and enthralling, especially when the bass steps out with a delicious and throaty bassline which in turn inspires a new twist in the creative dance of rhythms and guitar.
Play is brought to a close by Circus Boy, a feisty and energetic flame of inventive craft and passion cast in another forcibly infectious slice of pop rock, and the most raw and explosive song on the release if not one to challenge the previous pair for top honours.
FlashFires easily show why the keen interest and praise being laid at their creative feet with Play whilst revealing a potential and strong hint that we have seen and heard nothing yet. With a very enjoyable and strong first seed in the EP, we for one cannot wait to see their talent blossom.
The Play EP is available on CD from 20th April via Angry Badger Records @ http://angrybadgerrecords.bigcartel.com/ and digitally @ https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/the-play-ep/id979989859
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