The Fire Show – Saint The Fire Show

4 out of 5

Label: Perishable

Produced by: Brian Deck, Graeme Gibson, Olias Nil, M. Resplendent

The Fire Show delivered one of the weirdest, harshest, catchiest art rock discs of all time with their self-titled debut, gathering members Seth Cohen’s and Michael Lenzi’s Pavement mimicry from Number One Cup and putting it through an effed-up Chicago post-rock blender… And then they kind of embraced the art over the rock for followup Above the Volcano of Flowers, making for an interesting, but uneven album.

Now apparently transcendant, Saint The Fire Show goes whole hog on the art, and that would be pretty repelling in most cases… except when the creatives seem to be so past the line of whatever might rightly be called “songs” or an “album” to just make the whole thing an experience; Lenzi’s – or “M. Resplendent” in The Fire Show – off-key half-talking shriek is again put to use to describe half-understood references and vaguely disturbing imagery, but there’s no longer really a chorus or theme going on that we can understand: he’s narrating to us from, and about, some alien world.

This is an album that will start with four and a half minutes of acapella with the most distant echo of percussion not maintaining a beat in the background; tracks go on for too long and segue in and out of interstitial half-songs.

But it’s so convincingly weird, and still, somehow, rooted to that catchiness at key points – The Rabbit Of My Soul Is The King Of His Ghost’s electronic beat that kicks in; the building beauty of Dollar And Cent Supplicants – that you can’t turn your ears off to it, and you’re always interested to hear what comes next. Some of this is self-defeating: the “too long” concept is a real thing, as songs will actually hit upon a rhythm and come to a conclusion… and then Resplendent and Cohen (“Olias Nil”) will keep it going, apparently not satisfied until they’ve been able to butcher things back to a state of unrecognizability.

Saint The Fire Show is an odd album, that flows together seamlessly. It is engrossing, and then you will also get lost at points, wandering between tracks. That it ends with utter familiarity rendered horrifyingly sad – a depressing cover of You Are My Sunshine – is… hilarious. If these aliens understood humor.