Album review: Closing Forever Sky by Firekites
For many others, and myself six years is a long time to wait for a follow up release; but sometimes life just gets in the way. This is the considered answer from Timothy McPhee (front man, guitar wizard and in house producer) over his mug of hot water, lemon and ginger as we take refuge in one of Newcastle’s many fine bars on a chilly winter night. His answer, his drink… the consideration behind each syllable that is projected from his mouth – it speaks volumes about Firekites artistic vision; a vision that exists between the various projects that each member is involved in, ranging from an artisanal baking business, to the running of two of Newcastle’s finest fashion boutiques.
Closing Forever Sky is a darker take on the collective’s enchanting combination of electronics, acoustic sound and organic progressions; a far more sparse and intricate-sounding collection of arrangements than 2008’s offering of The Bowery (to this day my favourite album). The tracks build and develop, willing the listener through a series of sonic worlds that are as reflective of the everyday lives of the composers as they are of McPhee’s house on Berner Street, Merewether and the expanse of ocean which lays just beyond it.
“There is a lot in there about simply living by the sea with Tiff (wife), but also the many darker periods encountered within the band during the course of producing the album,” notes Tim as we start to chat about lyrical themes. “The house in which we recorded (McPhee’s residence for the last six years) has a really unique energy about it. We were actually the first people to move in after the original owner’s son passed away in the house. He had slept in the same room his entire 94 years! This very room is where we tracked and arranged the majority of the album. Chandeliers, picture rail and plate glass doors separate every room, it was perfect for recording!”
The writing process consisted of a number of drawn out improvised jam sessions, which were captured live and mined for gold at a later date – and it was gold that they struck. We start to chat about one of my personal favourites, closing track Antidote. Coming in at eight minutes and thirty five seconds, it’s the second longest track on the album, but also one of the most captivating.
‘Lyrically, Antidote is essentially about people who use substance abuse as the excuse for their dishonest, & cowardly behaviour… Life’s too short for such things, for such people. Lyrical themes aside it’s the production, especially the drums, that pull this track together. Ben (Howe) served up THE most spirited and vital drum pass on that outro, captured on the first take and absolutely real deal!’
He’s not wrong either; perhaps his guitar wizardry also allows him to read minds. It wouldn’t surprise me… The artistry of the collection of songs is so strong that my first listen excited me in a way I haven’t felt since HTRK’s pioneering LP Work (work, work) way back in 2011.
All in all, Closing Forever Sky is a truly well rounded, and well thought out piece of artistry. A must listen for those who appreciate the small print.
Grab your copy of the album here.