Argo – Attack of the Firebots

Argo
Attack of the Firebots

I have to admit, I approached Attack of the Firebots with high hopes stirring in my breast. The theme for this CD (along with Argo’s name) was inspired by Star Blazers, aka Space Battleship Yamato. The artwork is loaded up with spacemen and a flaming one adorns the CD. I’m obviously easily enticed. All that aside, I’ve heard Argo described as “pure musical bliss”, and “…blissful indie rock…” Since I was feeling pretty low on the bliss-front I’d hoped for a recharge.

Unsurprisingly “Firebot”, which aptly opens the CD for us, is reminiscent of old anime or Nintendo background music fused with a Weezer-ish sound. Before you get too excited though, it’s nowhere near as cool as Mega Man 2’s Flash Man stage music, although it has its own brand of charm.

Even if I found myself preoccupied with trying to figure out which video game “Firebot” reminded me of most, at least it kicks things off with some retro style upbeat energy. This quickly bleeds out into “Waters Red,” the not so hauntingly presented tale of a doomed vessel (the Argo herself, I presume), but the band Argo wisely doesn’t allow the energy of “Firebot” to dissipate. A little over a minute into the song it comes back strong, keeping this listener from sinking into disappointment.

As a special bonus, if you pop Attack of the Firebots into your PC you’re presented with a video for “Waters Red,” which is basically moving shots of the comic book style liner that accompanies the CD complete with lyrics in little action boxes. Frankly this should be downright absurd, but it somehow comes off as charming, in a “look what my 5yr old cousin Ricky made me in art class” sort of way.

“Alternate Ending” hits us with more catchy beats, but I’m still feeling bliss-free and as if I’ve been here before. Maybe it was the 70’s anime feel, or maybe it’s just me, but each track had me wanting to dig though my music collection to figure out where I’d heard it all before. New and interesting combinations percolated in my brain: Pablo Honey blended with Pizzicato Five and the Please Save My Earth soundtrack, etc.

I got so sidetracked by this that “The Fall” passed me right by and I was suddenly presented with “Time Away,” which feels like an out of place Space Cowboy Rock segue. I thought it was a fluke, but the next three times I listened to the CD the same thing happened. Actually, large chunks of the CD’s 32 minute play time slid right past me despite repeated attempts to catch hold of some substance.

I’m guessing if you’re already an Argo fan you won’t be disappointed, but this was my first exposure to the band. I could feel some Star Blazers vibes, there were definitely catchy beats and I can even understand how many would be wooed by Argo’s poppier moments, but I expected a bit more umph for my listen.

“Firebot” got me intrigued, “Waters Red” almost lost me but came back strong, there were many moments during “Needs” where I really enjoyed myself (especially around 1:30 into the song), but I feel like I need a bit more strength between the first and last tracks of a CD. Where was the aforementioned bliss? Perhaps it lingers on Argo’s previous release, Jet Packs For Everyone.