Album review Scottish albums

Pale Fire

Pale Fire are from the West of Scotland and this is their second LP, exploring themes of adulthood and growing up to the accompaniment of some great riffs and playing.

The twelve tracks were produced by Jamie Savage at Chem19 in Blantyre.

There are some shades here of Lanarkshire compatriots De Rosa, and possibly The National, along with (dare we say it!) Deacon Blue, nothing wrong with that though…

Opener ‘Satellites’ builds gradually, using drum, bass, strings and keyboards to create a brooding atmosphere before bursting into a glorious chorus, with the words about “a sneaking suspicion, that something is missing…” cutting across the music…  The last section increases the tempo, and the instrumentation, to great effect, before referencing back to the first lines about a “drunken charge into the summer'”… Glory days indeed!

Other tracks like ‘King Salt’ include brass in the backing, again very effectively…and ‘No 1 Son’ has some great discordant piano…

‘Seven Years’ is quite bleak but still has the uplifting verve that for example Admiral Fallow have had at their best. ‘Clucky’ is more optimistic and the title track covers the tricky issues of longterm relationships.  

‘Various Witches’ includes lyrics quoting from Scottish author Jim Kelman (used with permission) – the piano and strings combination (then brass again) here really hits home – a joyful breakup song.

Last song ‘A Disaffection’ again deals with breakup, with some pithy but incisive lyrics – a great closer.

An immense amount of effort, care and detail has gone into this work and it certainly shows – these guys are no lightweights and have definitely considered their musical options – they have gone for this enveloping and immersive sound which at times threatens to overwhelm the listener but somehow never does.

Have to say that BM has not heard album no. 1 but this one is certainly a work of maturity, variety and substance – and well worth seeking out.