Say Psych: Album Review: Firefriend – Avalanche

Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Firefriend are Julia Grassetti (bass and vocals), Caca Amaral (drums) and Yury Hermuche (guitar and vocals). They are part of the underground resistance and in their latest LP Avalanche, have created their magnum opus.; an aural documentation of the nihilistic storm that is part of living in the 21st Century.

They pull at the threads that link the great subversive bands of the 60s through into the 80s and beyond to create something that feels like a bit of everything that’s been touched en route – from The Velvet Underground to Spaceman 3, via John Coltrane, William Burroughs, Louis Ferdinand Céline and Jean-Luc Godard. Their sound doesn’t rush to the pop hook or stall itself in the crunchy riffs, it glides above everything else to its own orbit creating echoes of the best parts of psychedelia, shoegaze and noise by taking it all into strange new fields of bliss.

Opening with ‘Zoey Speaks’ a hazy number which invokes all of the aforementioned, especially in its opening which could have been recorded in a New York basement with Warhol watching poignantly on. ‘Alone in the Dark’ is a different entity, with soothing vocals and rolling guitar riffs that drive the track. Its melodic elements create a dreamy atmosphere that allows the listener to float into oblivion. ‘Love Seems Distorted’ is a great name for a track whose guitars are distorted, the lyrics evocative and layers of twinkle wash gentle over everything. ‘Raw Violence’ changes tact and acts as a bridge between the two songs. Which is helpful as the next track entitled ‘Transients Welcome’ reaffirms this with its lazy, heavily shoegaze inspired countenance. ‘Death Star, inc’ continues this theme but with added emphasis to atonal guitar riffs that the mix has picked out to rise above the other elements.

‘Who’s Gone What’s Missing’ is probably the standout track of the album, partly because it has a noticeably different sound to the others, but also because its hypnotic riffs get wedged in the brain and have you humming them for days after. There are so many musical inspirations shining through that they follow thick and fast, yet somehow this is something all their own. ‘Electric Moon Revisited’ returns to the more fuzz laden sound, with layers of sound repeating underneath Julia’s distinct vocal sound. ‘Maxwell’s Demons’ is a real homage to the shoegaze gods of old, with indistinct vocals pushed to the rear, reverberating guitar layers laden with fuzz to the front and a slow methodical drumbeat tying it all together. Title track ‘Avalanche’ takes elements of all the preceding numbers, changes things up a a bit and presents them. It’s probably the most Firefriend track you’ll ever hear. ‘Dissatisfaction’ has added piano accompaniment to add an eerie edge to a dark track and concluding ‘Godless Clouds’, another track with a strong hook that is certain to appeal to the masses.

Firefriend aren’t for everyone; their tracks are long and involved and aren’t intended for the novice who wants an introduction to the genre. That said, they are masters of their craft and channel the ghosts of past, present and future in one dose.

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