There’s a new single just out by alt-pop band Firestations, called Small Island. The track is taken from their upcoming EP, due to be released on November 6th on the Lost Map label.
Small Island is the first instalment of a new multi-EP project titled Automatic Tendencies – the first of three EPs set to be released digitally and on limited-edition CD‑R over a six-month period. It embraces a mixtape aesthetic with each release including alternative “sunken” versions by the band as well as covers and remixes of new Firestations material by other artists.
I first saw Firestations back in 2014 ago as part of The End festival in north London. There was something captivating about their sound so not long after I headed to Wild Card Brewery in Walthamstow for the launch of their debut album Never Closer. They signed to Lost Map and in 2018 released follow-up album The Year Dot.
Listening to the new EP, it is evident Firestations have refined and developed their music but the foundations of their sound are still there: that effortless breezy charm overlaying multi-layered compositions that, satisfyingly, reveal more on subsequent plays. The harmonies of vocalists Michael Cranny and Laura Copsey are one of Firestations’ strengths and they are reassuringly lush on Automatic Tendencies.
The new songs are concerned as the band says, with “identity, belonging, progress and escapism.” Fairly topical subjects then. Small Island is about finding ways to “embrace an inclusive islander mentality when the dominant narrative seems to be stuck in slow motion or on repeat.” If you let it wash over you, you can appreciate the hazy beauty of the song; listen to the lyrics and it becomes suffused with melancholia.
The opening track New Device is a gauzy, rather summery affair which has grown on me since first hearing. I particularly love the track Greenmount (Sunken Version) in which songwriter Mike Cranny “looks closer to home and examines ambivalent feelings towards his own sense of belonging and identity.” It’s a more propulsive, muscular track, the expressive harmonies with a yearning edge – there’s too something in the playful, euphoric chord shifts that sounds a little like Django Django.
Band member and visual artist Laura Copsey has curated collections of special artworks that expand on the ideas within each release. The lead track from each project – beginning with Small Island – will be released as part of Lost Map’s PostMap Club subscription series of postcard releases, and accompanied by collaborative, experimental videos.
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