Spy Island – Little Fires

Spy Island
Little Fires

Whew! With all the work spent on un-packaging, I guess the treasure of this spy island is supposed to be the CD. First, I open the plastic-taped sheath, then I unfold the cover art leaflet, then I pull out another plastic case from another CD case, and finally I tug the CD from its snug translucent sheath. “This better be worth it,” I think to myself, pretending my time is so valuable that the 20 seconds I spent opening the CD now requires it to be wonderful.
So I pop that puppy into my disc drive and ponder the blue masking tape on the CD’s thin cardboard casing. Maybe it means that the band is trying to tape together their life. Whoa! I get yanked into the first track, “Sober Sleeping,” by a keyboard that sounds like a police siren in super-slow motion and a meandering guitar that give the track a bit of a western feel. Then it falls into order with a little drum cadence. “Sober sleeping / Attempted for the first time in weeks.” Backup vocals do the “Ooh” and “Ahh” thing nicely over Dave Serra’s lead vocals. Maybe the blue tape means they are sad, and they need to be connected to other sad strips of tape. “Cherokee Cheekbones” is a pretty uncomplicated track highlighted by the acoustic guitar’s melancholy strumming, and warm homemade vocals that might remind you of Stephen Malkmus. Maybe that blue tape means they are parasites and they feed off their music.
Hmmmm. “Little Fires, Inc.” is definitely the track I would recommend. Just a fun little number clocking in at a 1:26 that is sure to get your toes tapping. The lyrics read like a copy of the Enquirer, giving all the gossip of the town, starting with the author’s friend Paul who “takes alcohol with Demerol.” Then onto Paul’s friend Clark who “got shot in the dark” by a cop named Steve, etc, etc. So, I was thinking, maybe that blue tape is supposed to reflect their lo-fi recording. Ehhh, probably not. “Seldom Scene Queen” is another good mix-tape track. Probably partly autobiographical, partly fiction, the lyrics seem to possess a “depressed but what the hell can you do” type of attitude. And the song certainly seems to take itself lightly.
This is lo-fi pop the way it’s supposed to be done: recorded well, executed well, put together well. Sure, some of the tracks will lose your attention, but the good tracks recapture it. All in all, just a pleasant listen with some great college-radio tracks. Hmmm, maybe that tape doesn’t mean anything.