Two years in the making, The Fireflys latest album The Illumination of Everything is poised to drop April 18. The Runcorn, UK based band consists of Lee Wylding (vocals, guitar and bass), Andie Packer (drums), Chris Tann (Keyboards/Piano) and new member Sam Bramhall who will be taking up bass guitar duties for the upcoming tour and future studio adventures.
The Fireflys Americana/alternative-rock is warm and layered with an emotional depth and clarity that elevates their songwriting beyond many of their contemporaries. Their music is able to move and touch us so deeply. This is their skill, their gift. Lee’s writing has given us so many moments, moments so real, so compelling, that we are revealed in their truth.
This new album is perhaps their most accomplished yet. It is full of lovely ideas and is a wonderful journey of discovery. It has shades of Manic Street Preachers at their most reflective and there is a fragility that is compelling.
As a band they are tight. It feels as if they are in perfect sync with each other. Lee Wylding’s songwriting is strong and memorable, demonstrating his emotional intuition. The band reflect this; they are all of one voice, one vision and one heart. The Fireflys appear to be an emotional extension of a uniquely sensitive and empathetic songwriter. The warmth and gentleness shines through. It elevates the music to cloud level.
I was lucky enough to be sent a preview copy of The Illumination of Everything and spent a joyous hour or so immersing myself in the welcoming embrace of The Fireflys.
Opener “Illumination” is an instant rocker with a sweet hook. Lee’s voice is soft and gravelly, full of emotion. The guitars shine and shimmer but it’s the bass and drums that drive this track. The rest adds to the overall sparkle and effect. “Release/Repeat” opens with a Johnny Marr-esque guitar riff that instantly makes you smile.
“Branches” is beautiful and heartfelt. Lee is impassioned. His voice reflects the melancholy of the instruments. The drums are perfect and Andie Packer excels as the heartbeat of the band.
“Be Alone” opens with lush and dramatic strings giving the song a large and immediate sense of drama, something The Fireflys are so adept at doing. Once again Lee’s voice is soft and confessional but is never overpowered by the vast production. ‘But I crumble to the holy truth of a thousand lonely stares’, ‘I don’t want to be alone’ opines Wylding.
“When We Were Young” has obvious overtones of nostalgia. There’s a palpable sense of yearning that gives an immediacy. Harmonica lends a warm and country vibe to the song, adding texture. “River Song” is a song for the underdog; The Fireflys have always been champions of the lost, hurt and vulnerable and never more so than in this song.
“Tides (Little Love)” is an exclusive here for Fourculture. From the delicate opening it aches with honesty. The instruments are paired back to reflect the vulnerability of Lee’s voice and there is even some George Harrison inspired guitar to lift this song. It is underpinned by a tangible feel of introspection and reflection. “Sever” and “Time Did This To Us” close out an excellent album of searing emotional truth. Lee Wylding has opened himself up for us all to see and we are rewarded with perhaps The Fireflys most complete album to date.
The Fireflys are the parting of the clouds as the sun emerges. They are the sigh of the forest at twilight or the ripple on the pond. Their music is the elevation of honesty and compassion. They care more about their fans than any other band I know of and give their all for them. It is a beautiful and fulfilling relationship that sustains and rewards both sides.
File next to: Neil Young, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Counting Crows and The Gin Blossoms.
The Illumination of Everything is out April 18 on Canadia Records.