ALBUM REVIEW: Firehorse – Pills From Strangers

Pills From Strangers artwork
Pills From Strangers artwork

ARTIST Firehorse

ALBUM Pills From Strangers

LABEL Tijuana Gift Shop

RELEASE DATE 25.6.2013

7.6 | 10

Leah Siegel’s musical vehicle, Firehorse, is quickly gaining steam, and with the right amount of luck, Pills From Strangers could very well give the Brooklyn-based band a much larger audience. The band’s ability to shift from electronica to blues rock and not miss a beat provides them the opportunity to create an album that covers a large musical spectrum.

From the album’s first five tracks, Firehorse unleashes synth-pop gem again and again, beginning with the cheerleader anthem “Bloodstream.” The most joyous moments here are the ones where Siegel lets her voice do all the work, unrestrained and fearless, such as on “Scarecrow.” The song, which could no doubt soundtrack an episode of True Blood, is fully sinister, beginning with the almost industrial production and ending with Siegel’s slightly bitter vocal tone. She grows more and more enraged throughout, as her fantastical view of love didn’t prepare her for life’s harsh realities. “I’ll be the scarecrow / You are the tin man / We never found a yellow road,” she sings from the top of her lungs, before the inevitable accepting of the situation, where she sings, “we never made it home.”

The songs here are held together by Siegel’s captivating vocals, but that is not to discount the work of her backing band. Guitarist Steve Elliot, bassist Tim Luntzel (Loudon Wainwright III, Roseanne Cash) and drummer Brian Wolfe (Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond) offer firm ground on which Siegel can stand. “Wave” is a fantastic synth-pop cut, while “Any Other Day” recalls the work of My Brightest Diamond, with Siegel’s vocal harmonies at their strongest.

Some of the tracks, such as “Any Other Day,” and “Walls,” meander a little too long, but the band wisely capped the track list at seven as to not overstay their welcome. And with closer “Fool,” the band surely leaves the audience wanting more. A bluesy guitar riff opens the track, a dramatic departure from anything else here. The riff sets the tone for Siegel’s vocal acrobatics, a sound to behold. “Is that the only way a child can learn,” she asks, demanding an answer. It’s the best moment on the album, and one of the better ones all year. Pills From Strangers, while not doing anything drastically new here, does enough things well to make any music fan excited about the future of Firehorse, whichever direction that horse goes.

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