South America does not instantly spring to mind when you think of indie music, even less so when it’s of the slightly retro-sounding and anthemic variety. Brazil’s Fire Department Club are doing their bit to change this perception and with their latest EP: Best Intuition, have produced an eclectic mix of indie and retro synth sounds that is sure to intrigue. Fire Department Club have a distinct and carefully cultivated sound but also manage to incorporate elements of Modest Mouse, Kasabian and Muse across Best Intuition’s four tracks.
Fire Department Club seem to have adopted the tried and tested method of opening with their strongest track. “Never Learn” has a strong, almost funk like groove, supported by an understated organ and a guitar hook that is highly reminiscent of Modest Mouse’s “Float On”. The vocal delivery is crisp and the overall production values would raise anyone’s expectations for the remaining tracks.
After a brief, disco inspired fade in, second track “Pitfall” bursts into life with some angry guitar licks that cut through the mix. The lyrics are a meditation on the modern day, money focused, rat race, and the more aggressive vocal delivery and overdriven tone gives weight to every word. The strong chorus hooks are again a prime feature.
“Let it Roll” highlights Fire Department Clubs failings. The track seems to be merely going through the motions, the guitar work is rather uninspired and generic, whilst the other band member’s contributions never go beyond adequate. A forgettable track.
“Fall from Grace” shows a strong Muse influence. The almost shouted vocals and rapid, tremolo guitar riffs signal the return of the creative spark that was sorely lacking in the previous song. Despite many promising features, the track is let down by a chorus that starts off promising but loses momentum following a misguided and inexplicable change in rhythmic meter. The result is awkward and the antithesis of what one would expect an anthemic hook to be.
Although the band clearly have a unique sound and have shown good musicianship and songwriting ability with “Never Learn” and “Pitfall”, the weaknesses in “Let it Roll” and “Fall from Grace” let them down. The main negative is the lack of consistency in the songwriting, specifically the lack of fresh ideas, musical flow and hooks that can hold the listeners attention and keep them interested. Producing an EP with a distinct, yet authentic sound is no small task. Combining this with a widespread appeal seems to have eluded Fire Department Club this time around – but they’re on their way there.
Worth a listen for “Never Learn”.