Firegarden are a well respected Sheffield band who have been around for probably
longer than they care to admit. After 10 albums since 2002, and a few personnel
changes over the years, the current lineup is Jake (guitar and vocals), Ashley
(drums), Chris (bass and vocals) and newest member Adele (vocals). In 2015 the
band released their 'Choose Your Own Adventure' album, which they described as a
journey of rediscovery, and they followed this up with 2017's EP 1649. But change
was in the air... the departure of Andy Keys meant that the band had to make a new
version of their sound as a 3-piece. They began writing for their new album 'Voyage
to Crab Mountain' in summer of 2017, with Adele joining on vocals before the
album was finalised and recorded at Pig Farm Studios.
The opening track, ‘Crabs’, launches the trademark Firegarden sound straight into
my earholes. Jake is leading vocal on this track, which cuts in, in the main, at 1:30,
and the production is haunting and theatrical. As is usual for the band, the track is
music heavy and vocal light, and one of the things I love most about this band is that
all instruments are central to the overall performance, each a critical cog in the
Firegarden wheel. This track is varied and innovative, a musical feast, it's multi-
dimensional, rock with a folksy kink. There is a beautific guitar solo at around 4:30
showing why this guy is one of my favourite up and coming guitarists.
‘Magic’ is a real ear-worm - thanks guys (eye roll). The lovely and talented Adele is
on lead vocals, sounding great - honey-coated but with the kick of a good single
malt. It sounds like Adele has been in the band for years, the two main vocals fusing
well. There is some seductive bass-work from Chris, alongside the enchanting
vocals, and the band just seems to fit together as one organic being. When the guitar
kicks in on ‘Ghost Ship’ I can see Jake bobbing around on stage in my mind - I've
seen them perform too many times I think... The lead vocal is Jake, sounding all
husky and sexy, and parts of the track have a real piratical-romp energy - Avast ye!
‘Mountain’ has a heavier intro and a dual vocal attack. Ashley's ever-present drums
pulsate away, and there is an inspired guitar solo with lightning fast finger-work. The
track builds to a climactic peak at 4:15 when Adele pitches an exceptional melodic
vocal before the inimitable Firegarden musicianship closes the track, which is ablaze
with more layers than I can count. ‘Crushed’ is a 3-minute banger, again with both
Jake and Adele on vocals, with some captivating vocal effects and blending, and
(what I've now learned is) a magic pedal - which sounds like an exceptional
whammy-bar performance on steroids (super, exaggeratedly good). There is a
psychedelic edge to this one, and this is definitely one of my favourites.
‘Shoot For The Moon’ is a retro-sounding surge of soaring harmonies; southern-
infused, deep, soulful vocals which put Adele front and foremost - it really does
sound like she's well established in the mix now. “Shoot for the moon...it's all or
nothing tonight.” ‘Pigeons’ is the first of two epic tracks almost 9-minutes in length,
and demonstrates a stunning musical arrangement - how are these guys not big time
yet? This is an instrumental with all the trademark Firegarden musical interludes;
stunning! This is a musical all-you-can-eat buffet split into delicious portions. And
do I heard a little Dr Who, Mr Mann?
For the first time, I'm missing the keys but there is a sumptuous guitar where I
would've put the keys so I get over my grief quite quickly. ‘Lileth’ sees a powerhouse
vocal from Adele - let go, lass. This is a different sound for the band and I love it.
Along with Adele, the drums and bass are stars in this stellar track, all topped off
with a yummy guitar solo. “She won't give in, she won't back down,” - I can't help
but wonder if I'm somehow the inspiration for this...
‘Incomplete’ is the second of the longer tracks on the album and it exhibits a Deep
Purple influence. This is a luscious, inventive and contemporary yet retro-feel, with a
deep, rumbling bass, accompanied by a funky guitar and screaming vocal (Jake).
Parts of the song are bangin’, parts are gentler, there are smooth seductive sections,
and more of that buccaneer/marauder punch. And even a little jazz-blues
intermission at around the 6-minute mark. Best track on the album. A must for music
lovers everywhere. This is genius. 'One For The Road' is the final track and has a
earthy beat and groove which makes you nod along, tap your feet and shake your
hips like a demented string-puppet operated at will by the band. Adele provides the
lead vocal with Jake on backing vocals, and she really has a lovely tone with hints of
the Kane sisters. Drums and bass - I heart u. The guitar is major-league. These guys
really are masters of their craft.
This is a truly stunning album, a wholly unique venture punctuated by heavy rock,
funky grooves, and elaborate prog rock collages. It's diverse and original but
maintains the familiar Firegarden signature, and the combined strength of the
musicianship, transformed with the new female vocal, alongside textured and
poignant songwriting, means the bar is raised. All aboard! What a journey it's been,
and continues to be. For fans of prog, classic, indie rock.
Shoot For The Moon
One More For The Road
Jake Mann - guitar, vocals
Ashley Tuck - drums
Chris Heald - bass, vocals
Adele Louise - vocals
Label: Riffids Records
2002 The Matlock Bath Sessions
2006 Walking on Saffron
2015 Choose Your Own Adventure
2018 Voyage to Crab Mountain