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Fire/Works: Shenanigans

Shenanigans, at the end of the day, is one of the better, if not one of the best, records released on an independent Canadian label this year.
Fire/Works
Shenanigans
Coyote
2014-10-07

Imagine if Radiohead joined forces with Mumford and Sons and Coldplay on a street corner to shill for change. That would give you an inkling of the baroque, somewhat progressive, folk-rock sound of Montreal’s Fire/Works (so named with the backslash presumably to avoid confusion with the American pop-punk band Fireworks). Consisting of Jonathan Peters and David Lagacé, the group has an evocative, beautiful sound. Throughout the course of 12 songs and 50 or so minutes, their latest offering Shenanigans displays an artistic streak that towers above its influences. (Well, maybe not Radiohead, but still … .) I’ll be frank: this might not be to everyone’s taste as the group is rather quiet and laid-back, even though there are a few rockist numbers on the disc, but, upon repeated listens, the album opens up like a present wrapped with a bow. Once you reach inside, you might find something that you really want, the object of your desires. Given the nature of this album’s sound, that might be a fine antique.

Already, the band is garnering attention in their Canadian homeland: the first single from the album, “Elephants”, was picked as iTunes Canada’s Single of the Week, garnering almost 48,000 downloads in the process in a country where sales of 50,000 copies nets you a Gold album. (The group has since made the tune available as a free stream on Soundcloud.) Try to pick a favourite song, though, from the disc if you dare. I bet you can’t. Shenanigans is meant to be listened to front to back. It’s consistently strong and varnished, and the songs sparkle and shine. The band has been compared to Patrick Watson, another Canadian group (and not a person as the name might imply), and while the comparison is somewhat apt as these are two folk-rock outfits from Quebec, Fire/Works is more of a straight-ahead band without resorting to as many baubles, and certainly aren’t as depressing as Patrick Watson can be. However, there are some deft touches, such as the foreign sing-song voices on “The Japanese One” to the mutterings of conversions and even the ambient noise of the outdoors that closes the album. In all, Shenanigans is the sonic equivalent of a fine painting, one that you’ll want to stare at for moments and let feelings of euphoria wash over you. Peters and Lagacé should be proud of their creation. Shenanigans, at the end of the day, is one of the better, if not one of the best, records released on an independent Canadian label this year.

RATING 8 / 10
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