I’m not sure when the current vogue for retro rock and roll with a punk sensibility first started – or who started it. But let’s say it was The Hives with 1997’s 'Barely Legal'. Certainly a Hives gig at the Astoria was the closest I’ve ever come to recapturing the spirit of the punk era.
Now of course there’s a whole host of bands taking the genre and bending it to their own tastes. A lot of them come from Leeds for some reason – The Jim Jones Revue, Pulled Apart By Horses, and Gentlemans Pistols are three such bands we’ve written about here. And entering this crowded moshpit with their sophomore effort come Fights And Fires and the alluringly titled 'We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow' – a title at least guaranteed to catch the attention of the residents of Chelyabinsk.
A self-styled ‘geekcore quartet’ they play a no frills, high energy rock music with echoes of the past but quite at home in the here and now. Their lack of pretension is stunningly admirable and I warmed to this band right from the off. In fact opener 'Chase The Blues' has a cute video to accompany it and at 11 tracks and 30 minutes, it’s absolutely impossible for the album to outstay its welcome.
There’s honestly not a bad track on the LP, but the first four tracks make a quite sensational opening. 'Chase The Blues', 'Back Bone', 'Tread Water' and my own favourite, 'You Don’t Always Reap What You Sew' just ooze from under the garage door and ignite right in your face. And there’s no let up until the slightly experimental closer, the comparatively lengthy four minutes forty of 'Small Town Boy Pt II'. Fights And Fires lay claim to delivering fierce rock with a smile, and I’m very much convinced they absolutely do just that.
I love this type of music because it’s vividly alive and life affirming, and in its almost primeval sweaty grip the dreariness of daily life disperses quicker than a meteor over Russia. I guess the downside of such an approach is that its relative lack of commercial appeal - the album has been released on Swedish label Blackstar Foundation, perhaps an indication of the difficult UK market - means that it’s a challenge to keep smiling when the returns are so modest. Fights And Fires are taking to the road and claim it’s hard work that keeps them motivated – so what are you waiting for?
'We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow' is available to purchase on Bandcamp. Find more info at fightsandfires.co.uk.