1989, Music

On Fire (1989) by Galaxie 500

Having heard Luna a bunch before this band, I found their debut, Today, a bit of a deja vu experience (with a lot more grime and feedback) but I tried to put that aside due to when that album was recorded. Listening to this roughly a year later, I still don’t know enough about the history of dream pop, but I still assume their debut was a big deal. (I don’t know how many other bands did this slow, rough pop with guitar feedback thing.)

But the feeling of deja vu is strong on this record, not just because Wareham sounds like a rougher version of Wareham, but because this sure does sound like the debut, to my memory. Yes, there’s a saxophone on a track, but the palette hasn’t exactly expanded. These guys do what they do.

And they do that well. The songs have strong melodies and Wareham’s voice, though rough, has that endearing quality so many of these indie singers had at the time – is it embarrassment? Moreover, when he solos, Wareham does the feedback thing well enough. Yeah, he’s no Mascis, but he’s good enough for his band. (To the extent that I know Luna, I know he has mostly abandoned this style on record, and that seems a shame.) It’s his solos that give the album the little edge that it has, and there are a fair number of them, which is appealing to me.

But I can’t shake the felling that this is just Today 2. And though it is well executed, I find that disappointing. (I know, I know, one track has saxophones. That is very different of them. But it’s one track.) I generally like bands which evolve and I have a harder time with bands that just do a thing. (Unless I really, really like that thing.) So I’m a little underwhelmed.

7/10

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