Before playing And So They Ran Faster ..., I let the name Firehorse conjure a myriad of potential sounds in my head. Would the band be speed-punk? Raging indie-rock? Chunky-riffed sludge metal like Mastodon or Baroness? Of course, singer/songwriter Leah Siegel and her band’s debut album turned out to be none of the above. Instead, Firehorse plays a gauzy mix of laid-back pop, r&b, and slow-tempo rock. Siegel is unquestionably a strong singer, and her smoky, sexy voice is the best thing about this album. Her songwriting ability, though, leaves something to be desired.
Aside from the upbeat but silly “Machete Gang Holiday”, the songs here tend to blur together into one big mess of slow, lovelorn aching. This is all competently arranged and played by the rest of the band, studio pros all. Whether it’s a quiet horn accompaniment, a rockin’ guitar solo, or a string and woodwind section, the musicians are up to the task. The second half of the album does open up a bit sonically, with the bright guitar-and-voice arrangement of “If You Don’t Want to Be Alone (I Will Never Leave You)”, the ‘40s orchestra ballad style of “My Left Eye”, and the buzzing bass of closer “Baby Bird.” But Siegel’s lack of interest in any speed but “slow” makes And So They Ran Faster ... kind of a slog to get through.