+/-: Lets Build a Fire

[15 January 2007]

By Kevin Jagernauth

With a band name that renders Google search helpless, it’s not surprising that +/- named their third full length Let’s Build a Fire. They seem like the kind of guys who delight in the silly (their website contains a photo section of the meals they’ve eaten on tour) and who I wouldn’t be surprised if as kids, burned ants with a magnifying glass. Remarkably, Let’s Build a Fire funnels that disparate energy into a tightly focused, highly polished pop album. The band shifts effortlessly from acoustic driven tunes to full band pop, sometimes even in the same song, while seamlessly blending organic and electronic instrumentation. The production itself is also astounding, pushing Chris Deaner’s vibrant drumming and James Balyuyut’s reedy voice to the fore while keeping the Patrick Ramos’ nervous, quivering guitar palpable. But all of these factors would be moot if songs weren’t good—and they’re great. “Fadeout” takes a Krautrock guitar line and slowly rides it out until its explosive finale. On the other side of the spectrum is “Thrown into the Fire”, which with its delicate melodic phrasing and subdued vocals sounds like the Postal Service with guitars. Even potentially gimmicky audio tricks such as the faux CD skip that occurs in the middle of “Throw into the Fire”, are handled beautifully. +/-, like their name, have found the balance at the end of the equation. Ferocious and restrained, witty and mature, Let’s Build a Fire is a very fine pop album.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/lets-build-a-fire/