Amusement Parks on Fire play a brand of indie rock that is completely at home with the shoegazing rock of the early nineties. There are subtle hints to bands like Interpol even in the disc’s earliest stages, and even though the music captured on the disc may be sedate, it is very intense and owes much to Phil Spector’s legendary “wall of sound” approach. The mastering feels a little bit heavy-handed towards the music on this disc (to the slight detriment to the vocals), but lead vocalist Michael has the vocal skills necessary to shine through the emphasis put on the instruments. “Eighty Eight” is no way uses the Spartan outlook (that is, only using the instruments that are absolutely essential for hooking listeners in), but rather puts layers over layers, swaddling the listener into a warm, cottony gauze enthralled forever as the band’s mummy.
The extended lead-in for the disc’s forth track “Wiper” showcases all the elements previously brought onto the CD and for the first time, really gives listeners the impression that the vocal presence is not necessary to allow the track to succeed. In fact, the talent and virtuosity shown by the hard-working guitar line and the fuzz created by the drum-beats really make for a full song. This song reacts admirably to the infusion of vocals, even if (again) the vocals seem a little small compared to majesty of the instruments. “Venosa” uses a faster tempo than most of the tracks on this CD and really seems to draw its influence from two distinct currents in music: firstly, Lit comes up in the way vocals are delivered (listen to Lit’s single “My Own Worst Enemy” for the same style of almost sing-songing the vocals) and secondly, the music present on the draw feels much more like the “Emo” sound cultivated by early Deep Elm.
Compared to the relative speed of the prior track, the beginning of “Asphalt” is like molasses. Using what sounds like a violin on this track really causes listeners to stop and reconsider, even as the periphery crackles with an energy that belies the much more sedate sound of the track. Amusement Parks on Fire are an “indie” band through and through, with their style of music admirably following such great examples and Sloan and early Flaming Lips. The sound is never derivative nor is it rote; this is a solid album.
Top Tracks: Venosa, Asphalt
Amusement Parks on Fire – S/T / 2005 BMG/Filter / 9 Tracks / http://www.amusementparksonfire.com / http://www.bmg.com / Reviewed 28 May 2005