September 20 Passafire’s fourth studio album Start From Scratch drops; produced by Paul Leary (member of Butthole Surfers/producer for Sublime and Meat Puppets) this release shows a mature side of the band, and is well worth a spin.
On the Vans Warped Tour this year Passafire made something of a name for themselves, with an energetic live show and a mix of sounds that attracts a wide variety of listeners, this album provides a wider platform than their previous works, the blending various styles and genres is well-delivered and production on the album is wonderful.
“Dimming Sky” is the lead out song on the album, and starts with some reggae heavy organ immediately leading the listener into the world of Passafire. With imagery driven lyrics lead vocalist Ted Browne, delivers a heartfelt and genuine tale. Mixing in some keyboards with a new-wave flavor the song dances back and forth between what seems to be a both memory and a daydream.
“La Fuenta” is a quickly-driven number that seems more experimental than the others, with a changing tempo the listener is kept on their feet, not sure exactly where the band is going. Not the strongest song on the album they certainly gain points for creativity and for stretching their songwriting muscles.
The title track “Start From Scratch” was an excellent choice for the first single. The more traditional reggae writing, production and delivery is very strong. Without trying too hard Bowne, Will Kubley (bass/vocals), Mike DeGuzman (keys) and Nick Kubley (drums) mix various rock, funk, reggae and electronic creating a nearly perfect mix.
Exploring new sounds, growing as songwriters and incorporating influences into the music is the life cycle of a musician, “Rubber Bands” pays homage to obvious influences, such as 311, manages to stay light-hearted and poppy, a good mixture of old and new.
Even the weak spots in the album can be overlooked, for instance “Epiphany” seems somewhat out of place, with a slow feel it contrasts sharply with the rest of the album. However, even in this somewhat-out-of-place song the vocals and performance are dead-on and solid, mixing in a tinge of bluegrass that seems to fit perfectly with the song.
The evolution from previous albums is obvious, and it’s a welcome maturity. Focus was clearly part of the writing/recording process and it paid off with a solid album that will make for a solid set-list at their live shows. It’s also just plain fun spin, a foot-moving sound. With Passafire heading out in support of the album be sure to check them out when they arrive in a city near you.
By Meredith Underhill