Firehorse - Pills From Strangers
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: June 26, 2013
Seven songs, 27 minutes. It should always be this way.
Pills From Strangers is the seven-song follow up to Firehorse's critically acclaimed debut And So They Ran Faster. Operating largely as a vehicle for frontwoman Leah Siegel to showcase her wide-ranging vocals, this full-bodied ensemble hits all the right notes and never once relents.
Opener "Bloodstream" is a moody slice of synth-pop that is sleek, steamy and an absolute firecracker. The swerving electro-pop cut "Good" has a dizzying charm even if Siegel rattles off about how she "never was a good girl." There's a captivating hypnotism about the song and as it wobbles buoyantly alongside a teetering organ, it marks the first of many awestruck moments. The languid "Wave" is a slow-building and pensive cut with layers of piano, atmospheric electronics and Siegel's effortless vocal prowess. Much like its predecessor there's a charisma and confidence at work here that just makes the song far too good to pass up.
"Any Other Day" is spartan and airy and more or less serves as a sonic break. Unconventional, daring and bold "Any Other Day" proves Siegel's ability to continue pushing her boundaries and think outside of the box. Furthering her ability to leave her comfort zone, Seigel and Co. swim through a sea of ambient experimentalism on the chillwave cut "Scarecrow." Shortly after the two minute mark, Siegel sings out to the heavens at the top of her range and rescues the song from sliding into mundanity.
While it is arguably the weakest song on the disc, it is rescued by "Walls," an acoustic-based effort of Brit-inspired melodrama that feels strangely kin to late 90s Radiohead. Brooding, big-hearted and nothing short of brilliant, "Walls," as well as the leave-it-all-on-the-table closer "Fool" are Siegel at her absolute best.
In just seven short songs, Siegel proves why she is easily one of New York City's finest singer-songwriters and a rising talent that deserves both a wider audience and larger stages. Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, they all seem a logical next step for the fiery-spirited chanteuse. Pills From Strangers is first rate in every sense of the word.