Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Fire Theft

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Speaking of which, back in 1992 I was busy serving 5-to-10 in Woolworth for grand theft audio so I never got to smell what drummer William Goldsmith and singer Jeremy Enigk were cooking when their first band, Sunny Day Real Estate, showed up on the Seattle scene.

But now that I’m a rehabilitated member of society, my parole shrink assures me that I’m much better equipped to fully appreciate the exquisite audio aromas emanating from their new band’s self-titled debut recording. Which is good because The Fire Theft is a soulful sonic kitchen where every day the chef is serving up essence d’art rock, just like Mama used to make.

Now you youngsters may not get the requisite chills down your spindly spine that such a delirious designation denotes, but to those of us who were weaned on the electro-techno excesses of early Yes, ELP and Genesis (and the genre’s final florid gasp, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia), the hallowed halls of histrionic art rock have long been in need of a refurbished revival.

Not that some haven’t tried, mind you. Kyuss spearheaded a relatively relevant resurrection a while back with their soupy, arid sound scapes, while whiz-kid Reznor single-handedly shouldered the aesthete mantle with his recent art-rock downer, The Fragile. But other than that, there’s been a dire paucity of portentous profundity. Until now.

Aching plaintive vocals (think Bono meets Jon Anderson), backed by a swirling series of hauntingly lush orchestral washes (think John Cale meets David Sylvian), envelop you until you’re sinking in a sensual sea of sound that has to be heard to be believed.

Now if all this sounds like an art-rock wet dream come true, you’re right. Except pinching yourself to see if you’re awake won’t help because one listen to The Fire Theft will have you drowning in the deep end of this elegantly archaic dissipation pool.

Frankie say relax. Breathe in.

E-mail Jeffrey Morgan at letters@metrotimes.com.

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