LONDON-based dream-pop, shoegaze jangle merchants extraordinaire FIRESTATIONS today release new album, ‘Thick Terrain,’ (Lost Map Records) a long awaited follow up to 2018’s, ‘The Year Dot.’

Explaining the five-year gap between albums, Michael Cranny (vocals, guitar) said, “After the release of ‘The Year Dot’ had settled, we started worked towards another album, but then the pandemic came along and changed the world completely.

“So we released an experimental 77-minute-long ‘song’ called ‘Dream Home,’ followed by a series of EPs called ‘Automatic Tendencies.’ The pandemic, despite all the terribleness, or maybe because of it, seemed to usher in a new creative phase for us. I’m especially proud of those three EP’s. Since then, last year and earlier this year, we’ve released a couple of standalone singles while working towards the new album.”

Today’s new album features ten tracks touching on themes including identity, memory, conflict, and progress, a clear-eyed and bold statement, deftly combining big ideas with pop sensibilities, making it the band’s most ambitious and accomplished work to date.

Straight out of the West Coast, summer of love’s playbook, ‘Thick Terrain’ opens with ‘God & The Ghosts,’ setting us on a delightful, musical journey across a quite beautiful soundscape.

The albums stand out track, ‘Travel Trouble,’ is the perfect song for the precarious times we appear to have been stuck in for what feels like an eternity. And there’s no sign things are going to get any easier in the foreseeable future.

“It’s impossible to avoid the ramping up of the ‘hostile environment’ rhetoric from the Tories right now, and this, juxtaposed with privileged people getting disproportionately annoyed with minor inconveniences in their everyday lives, can be very depressing,” explains Cranny about the thinking behind the song.

“Here in England, we need much more compassion, with an understanding that, on a very basic level, it’s a complete accident where you’re born and the circumstances you find yourself in.”

And the classic songs keep coming.

‘Also Rans’ sweeps us along on a magic carpet made of the finest silk, through golden fields, under a clear blue sky. It’s majestic. Slide guitar, upright piano, and viola.

‘Undercover.’ Another stunner. “Essentially, this is an effervescent song about depression and self-discovery. Come for the happy sad lyrics, stay for the rare guitar solo!” says Cranny, and who are we to disagree.

UNDERCOVER: “Come for the happy sad lyrics, stay for the rare guitar solo!”

As we head towards the exit, penultimate track ‘Swim Under Water’ is a song of two halves, and they’re both excellent, which begs the question, are we getting two classics wrapped up as one?

Finally, as all good things must inevitably draw to a close, ‘Stillness’ brings the curtain down on ‘Thick Terrain.’ And the song is a gargantuan affair, psychedelia at its very best, certainly no stillness to be found anywhere, but a blissed out, guitar driven tour de force.

Working as a five-piece can often produce a myriad of challenges, however the band appear to have struck the perfect, creative balance with today’s release.

“’Firestations’ is a musical group, a band if you will, made up of five individuals who like to make songs together,” adds Cranny. “I am the one who often initiates the creative process and the one who writes lots of notes in his phone that eventually become said songs.

“The others are Laura Copsey (vocals, keys, flugelhorn), Martin Thompson (guitar), Tom Hargreaves (drums) and Neil Walsh (bass).

“The songs on the album mean everything to me and hopefully, us, as a band. We’ve written a lot of songs over the years, and often find it difficult to get excited about new ideas. The personal filter gets involved and things get quickly chucked in the ‘no’ folder.

“Somehow, these songs had the right amount of simple and complicated to engage our brains and get us excited – the arrangements seemed to arrive quite organically and, while the meanings were there, I was also able to experiment with more free-form lyrics, which was a lot of fun.

“I like it when our songs have layers but stay accessible, whether or not the listener wants to unpack them. I feel like we’ve moved closer to that songwriting goal with this collection.”

It’s an ambitious album, it’s a stunning album and for that alone – the avoidance of every time looking for the easy options in the studio – it should be lauded. And if their star continues to rise as it should, ‘Thick Terrain’s’ follow up is going to take our breath away.

Connect with FIRESTATIONS:

Catch FIRESTATIONS live on Saturday July 15th, at London’s ‘Shacklewell Arms.’ The Shacklewell Arms

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