Label: Colourschool Website: Buy: Amazon What do we look for in an album? Something that is ambitious and conceptual, or is it consistency that we seek? In an age where an impatient sense of urgency has brought the single back into prominence thanks to the selectability of IPods and other MP3 players, a body of work is no longer appreciated in the same way as it once was, and perhaps the album format itself is nearing extinction. Yet musicians and bands still release albums, partly because they believe they can make a timeless statement and partly because of ego. I’m wondering if as the human species evolves whether our attention spans are dwindling. I see people picking up copies of Infinite Jest before quickly putting it down, it is painful to hear their defeatist sigh of “I can’t read that, it’s too long!” I watch people skipping Marlon Brando’s monologue in Apocalypse Now. I’ve even seen people discard chessboards because it’s all too much. Like the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland we’re always running late, never having the time to do anything. The Fireflow Trade is an album that must be deemed a veritable sound feast, oozing ambition. The Nottingham based band has created an album of substance. Coincidentally it all ties in well with the rediscovery of shoegaze, though not quite as uptight as the Scene that once celebrated itself. The album sounds like it has been carefully crafted; each and every song has a purpose, fitting in with the greater whole. Opening with ‘Panthalassa’ a song that lives up to the vast expanse of ocean that it takes its name from, there is a carefully chosen blend of dizzying guitars and expansive synths that immediately occupies the ears. This is music to get lost in. Before a breath can be taken the approachable ‘Tiger Shark’ jolts into life, the jerky rhythmic post-punk beginning paves the way for startling synth visions. A great deal of The Fireflow Trade is futuristic space rock, both ‘9 Sky Open’ and ‘Crash The Current’ recall post-hardcore behemoths Cave In. What differentiates Swimming from Cave In and other bands of that ilk is the cinematic soundscapes that explode into harmonic bursts; the epitome of this is ‘Eagle Aviary’. Pick of the album is the brooding bass heavy ‘Crescents’, a rolling thunderstorm, an imperial march, a minor miracle. Though what weighs the album down somewhat is the lethargic tendencies of ‘Ease Down The River’; though a change of pace midway through the album isn’t such a bad thing, it sounds like a good idea that isn’t fully fleshed out. As we reach the halfway point of 2009 The Fireflow Trade ranks up there as one of the better albums I have heard this year. The heavy use of reverb and the consistent barrage of synth laden sonics add gumption into the grace. Patience is the key to this album; the more you listen the greater you appreciate its subtle quirks. Rating: 8/10