The Boy Bathing – A Fire To Make Preparations

The Boy Bathing
A Fire To Make Preparations

A Fire To Make Preparations is a very perplexing album. It’s bewildering because the first four songs are some of the most captivating, inspiring and original music I’ve heard in a long time. The rest of the disc, although superior by most standards, doesn’t live up to the expectations forged by the opening tracks and seems more like esteemed imitations of some prominent indie-folk bands, which is not iniquitous by any means.

The Boy Bathing immediately draw comparisons to indie luminaries The Decemberists and Loch Lomond not only with their unique blend of charming folk-pop and quaint, captivating indie-rock, but also in the literate and expressive articulations of lyricist and lead singer David Hurwitz. With a wavering voice similar to Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst, Hurwitz brings the songs to life with expressive feeling, pungent words and an animated flair that may be an acquired taste for some.

The music on the first four tracks, “The Beaches Meet The Sea”, “The Questions Simple”, “The Apple Is Sliced” and “The Miner’s Jewels”, is both compelling and superb. It is an original mix of indie-rock, chamber-folk, and pop that is charming, moody, alluring and intriguing. Acoustic and electric instrumentation are perfectly layered and the songs unfold with charming unpredictability.

Deepening the music’s impact is the dramatic singing and recondite lyrics like “How’s it gonna matter if I die today? Maybe one less car on the interstate”, “My future is an apple and I’m reaching for a slice. I don’t care about money but having it is nice” and “There was a big mistake in the factory that built us all, with a heart so big and a body so small. So if I start to freak you out, you know it’s not my fault. You can blame it on the way the human race evolved”

Things settle down a bit musically after “The Miner’s Jewels” as the clever melodies and magnetic arrangements are surrendered to a decidedly alt-country influence with a softer, more acoustic sound accented with piano, accordion and mandolin. But the lyrics consistently provide the bite. Whether exploring self worth through a twisted world view or chronicling the endeavors of strange characters, the eloquent indie-folk inhabits similar environments as Bright Eyes and Crash Test Dummies.

It’s apparent that The Boy Bathing are on to something here. The core quartet of Hurwitz (Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Mandolin, Banjo, Saxophone), Jeannie Scofield (Vocals, Bass, Keyboards), Dylan Allen (Elec Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards, Percussion), and Matt Bogdanow (Drums, Vocals, Accordian, Keyboards, Percussion) establish mood with rich melodies and discriminating sounds that, unfortunately, can’t be sustained through the disc’s 13 tracks and 67 minutes. Even still, A Fire To Make Preparations shows enough promise to stand above most independent rock band releases and should definitely be checked out by fans of the RIYLs. They won’t be disappointed.