So: You’re a kick-ass four-piece boy girl punk-pop-indie outfit from the depths of darkest Darlington. You’ve played toilet venues up and down the country, garnered the love and admiration of the independent press and generally earned your credentials - but no fucker will sign you. Spiky/melodic, angry feminist music full of love and life and rough raw edges just isn’t NOW, DAH-ling. So what do you do? You set up your own label to record and release your own damn album, that’s what you do. Elementary, my dear Watsons.
And here it is, inside a Barbie posed film noir cover in gorgeous black and white announcing that this is “Caught Redhanded, a record by We Start Fires”. Inside, a mug-shot line-up of more Barbie dolls announce their crimes: Single Mother; Prostitute; Career Woman; Feminist - WSF wear their political heart proudly on their sleeves. The CD itself is a luscious shade of shocking pink.
Gagging for it yet? Then allow We Start Fires to present eleven songs with the rough and ready humanity that DIY recording brings, and with the shine of just being really, really, really fucking amazing. Here, dual girl vocals slip effortlessly from shout to harmony to shout again, often sliding down one long descending note in freefall through the fizzing keyboards and interstellar guitars. Here, spine tingling melodic beauty co-exists quite happily with jerky rhythms and unexpected structural twists and turns. WSF are equally at home with spiky pointed punk and with bittersweet pop harmonies; just as comfortable spitting at the injustice of being denied what they should have as they are singing achingly beautiful mourning songs for the sense of loss that that denial brings. This is exhilarating, intelligent, challenging and daringly honest pop music, laced with moments of such exquisite beauty that it brings tears to your eyes and makes your heart sigh open before sparking joy and exuberance all over again.
We Start Fires have created something very special here. From the opening kick-thrash-lash assault that is Bang Bang through the simply breathtaking beauty of Dollhouse and Ruby Slippers_ to the catchy DANCE DAMN YOU DANCE pop of When You Fall, this album is just cracking. It has the sweeping beauty of the star-scapes which those in the gutter stare up at, the ache of wanting, needing, longing for more and the soaring joyous optimism of those who believe in better things and who know they’re gonna fucking well make it. With you or without you. And I don’t know about you, but I’m with them all the way.
We Start Fires are touring to support Caught Redhanded - dates and album-acquisition details can be found at westartfires.co.uk.