[sic] Magazine

Firefriend – Avalanche

More than deserving of its place deep in rock ‘n’ roll’s hall of fame is the mid-distant, part-spoken vocal that comes reverbed out to the point of disinterest. It’s just effortlessly cool and it’s not the only trick São Paulo band Firefriend lift from the iconic handbook as the trio continue their prolific career with new LP Avalanche. Cherry-picking the best motifs from both modern and 60s experimental psych, so too from the fertile hunting grounds of arty noise-rock and spacey shoegaze, their sound takes in both the likes of The Velvet Underground and Sonic Youth amongst others as it goes, Avalanche an album however not quite as quick to reach for the heavy riff as some of its predecessors, relying instead more often on nagging minimalism to turn the band’s trademark slow-burn into something rather more impressive.

Avalanche nevertheless rumbles elementally when needed, massive guitar distortion crunching in over certain outros, noisy middles peppering the mix sparingly, the title-track, for example, throwing up expressive wails of noise blurred by Yury Hermuche’s pealing guitar and impassioned snarl. Ever Hermuche’s soothing counterfoil, bassist Julia Grassetti’s uneasy coo leads more restrained material, woozy guitars, gently trippy drones and Caca Amaral’s percussive shuffles simmering alongside stoned strumming and out-there backmasking. Avalanche consequently lacks some of the standout tunes of an album like Yellow Spider, but it’s a more consistent listen.

Compensating for this homogenising predictability come strangled psych-blues slides and oddities that scribble all over the album’s laid-back wah, melancholy ambience too eventually lost to crackling, top-end static. These strains of outsider discordance peak during the Nico-inspired “Transients Welcome”, a track otherwise bolstered by contemporary psych-rock muscle while the fuzz rolls in for 11-minute album centrepiece “Who’s Gone? What’s Missing?”, a rolling jam with tremolo-fired disorientation dropping it was off the beaten path during its finale. Firefriend may not yet be quite ready to join their influences in rock ‘n roll’s hall of fame, but album on album they’re staking a very ear-catching claim.

Best track: “Avalanche”

~Avalanche is released 23rd August 2019 via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud.~