Label: Hobo Records Release date: Out Now! Website: In this day and age, it seems as if every upcoming band needs a strange hook to make a name for itself. Be it by mixing and matching multiple genres in a single song, by including seemingly random instruments where a listener would least expect it, or even by riding the coattails of another novelty act, if a new band isn't in the critically coveted genre of lo-fi indie rock, it runs a high risk of being dead in the water. All the Fires, at first glance, looks like a three ring circus. Their Myspace page says that the band “boasts six songwriters, five singers alongside guitars, piano, cello, bass, drums, mandolin, glockenspiel and melodica.” It looked like a thick, gimmicky stew of avant-garde pop music. Two minutes of careful consideration and a deep sigh later, I pop in their debut EP The Map, only to be surprised by what sounded like straightforward folk music. Yes, it is all there on the opening song 'Found You:' the strings, glockenspiel and all. However, these additions are subtle contributors to the overall poppy, upbeat harmony. The vocals are rich with a charming sweetness, though groan-inducingly sappy lyrics nearly ruin the euphoric harmonies surrounding them. 'She', takes the delightful instrumentation and tones down the schmaltz in the lyrics, a much needed change that adds to the sincerity of the pop. While not as kinetic a piece as the opener, it makes a 'good transition to the more relaxed “Bys Vyken', a blissful ballad that paints a picture beautiful enough to place the listener in the land it describes. This mellow gold is disrupted by the dark 'Anchor Song', the most interesting song on the EP, if only for its complexity. It sets itself apart from the rest of the EP with its gloomy mood, accented by nautical imagery and an omnipresent slow piano hook. These sad elements stand in stark contrast to the hectic drum breaks that permeate through the latter half of the strong, adding feelings of chaos and confusion to the already distressed, hopeless melody. The status quo is restored with the closer 'Zugunruhe'. Though the title is a forgettable tongue-twister, its content is more of the positive, easygoing folk-fare that the rest of the album provides. Like my initial perception of the band, I had made the error of judging this song by its title, though a few wholesome repeat listens had ground the catchy chorus into the epicenter of my short-term memory. Seventeen minutes later, I deeply inhale to cancel out that premature sigh. The sound of The Map is essentially cut-and-dry folk-pop, with a few occasional variations or missteps, but it evokes a whole range of emotions as diverse as its ensemble cast of instruments. Rating: 8/10