Autoheart are a genuinely interesting band. In a world where we’re beset on all sides by amorphous, identikit indie, Autoheart stand tall with a somewhat unique sound. Not unique in the sense that they’re making music the likes of which we’ve never heard, or that they’ve invented their own genre, but, while some of their influences are worn on their sleeves, Autoheart give them their own spin. A little Culture Club here, some Yeasayer there, a dash of Vangelis over yon, Autoheart are, at their core, an indie-pop group, though to label them as such is to do them down considerably.
Their long-awaited debut, Punch, released in 2013, should, in a just world, have been in everyone’s top 10 albums of the year list. A solid slab of emotion, Punch felt like every single bullet point in a turbulent relationship set to song. I Can Build A Fire is, by contrast, an altogether more happy-go-lucky release.
Opening track, ‘Oxford Blood’ sets us up in familiar territory to the last album, but with a cold, synth intro. That synth gets a lot of use over the course of the album, putting the album bang on trend with the current love of eighties influenced synth wave that we’re all enjoying.
It wouldn’t be right to go any further in an Autoheart review without now bringing attention to Jody’s magnificent vocal style. Evoking Tracy Chapman, his voice is beguiling, almost genderless, but always compelling. If you’ve never heard Autoheart before, please take a moment to listen to any of their songs right now. Go on, this can wait.
Have you done so? Good.
I’m right, aren’t I? That voice is gorgeous.
For me, the high point of I Can Build A Fire is the almost title track, ‘We Can Build A Fire’. It’s a thumping track that’s only a slight remix tweak away from being well at home in nightclubs up and down the land. The drums pound along while Jody’s voice bounces off of every beat, punctuating the sound, making me want to dance around. But I can’t, because I’m writing this.
I Can Build A Fire is a considerably more upbeat, jaunty album than its predecessor. There’s still a fair amount of the emotion that ran through the core of Punch, but here it’s tempered with a more vibrant, poppy edge. There are tunes on here that you can straight up dance to; ‘Possibility’, for example. If you listen carefully to that repeated keyboard motif, you could almost be in a Balearic nightclub, lasers washing over you, a sweating German man trying to sell you bad ecstasy.
All told, I Can Build A Fire is a damn fine album with which Autoheart should rightly be proud. I must confess that it has yet to shunt Punch from the place I keep in my heart, but I’ve had three years to ingest that album, and almost know every note. Ask me again in three years and I may find it harder to choose.