Sometimes you want music that’s happy in the background: tunes and rhythms into which you can snuggle down, safe and sound and comforted. This kind of music is highly necessary and vitally important to day-to-day life. Firefly do not make this kind of music.
Debut album Lightships makes you sit up and take note. It’s not a record to which you can half-listen whilst having a tidy or slicing some onions. It’s damn good for listening to, closed-eyed, in the bathtub until the water loses its heat and you stumble out, into the welcome embrace of a warm towel.
Listening to these nine songs is an intensely varied experience: by turns choral, jazz-inflected, eerily simple and jagged-edged with energy.
The variation extends to the subject matter, too. The sea features strongly, returned to again and again in disparate tracks including the titular ‘Lightships’, a short, highly atmospheric burst of song that sits alongside the exuberant tale of ‘Lady Laurie’ (who falls foul of bicycle thieves) and ‘The Slaughter of the Innocents’ (still beautiful, not quite so exuberant).
These juxtapositions of tone and topic are just part of what makes Firefly such an exciting band. You must have a listen when you next have time to sit very still.
They’re also a fantastic proposition live, as we discovered in 2010.