[sic] Magazine

Firefriend – Dead Icons

The latest in a hot run of Firefriend LPs, Dead Icons is the Brazilians’ sixth LP since 2016 and, if anything, the cool-as-you-like three-piece may just be getting better. Cherry-picking the best motifs from both contemporary and 60s psych, so too from the fertile hunting grounds of arty noise-rock and spacey shoegaze, the consistently great Avalanche back in 2019 wasn’t quite as quick to reach for the heavy riff as some of its predecessors (see the standout Yellow Spider album), relying instead more often on the band’s trademark slow-burn, but it nevertheless rumbled elementally when needed, massive guitar distortion throwing up expressive walls blurred by Yury Hermuche’s pealing guitar and impassioned snarl. Ever Hermuche’s soothing counterfoil, bassist Julia Grassetti’s uneasy coo lead Nico-inspired jams full of tremolo-fired disorientation, Caca Amaral’s hypnotic drums simmering alongside stoned strumming, woozy drones, and out-there backmasking.

Seeing Avalanche as a template to better rather than to build on, Dead Icons oozes filthy rock ‘n’ roll, nimble bass always able to pick out a magnetic rhythm, percussion always in the right place at the right time to add backbone and drive, the window dressing never less than spot on. It doesn’t mess about either, guitars quick to get a groove going, reverb only too happy to thrown up a dreamy haze on the title track, lost vocals crying out for help. Ticking over with motorik precision, early highlight “Spin” deploys highline synth repeats in turn to conjure thoughts of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club zoning in on Primary Colours after a large cup of mushroom tea.

Even the disinterested fuzz of lids-half-mast, No Wave plodder “666 Fifth Avenue” hit the mark, the crunchy ‘gaze and industrial corruption of the track that follows impossibly sexy. Firefriend would sound colossal given the right rig and the slo-mo post-rock of “Tomorrow” and its caustic scree prove it. Over on the flip, textural freak-outs and atonal art-punk keep the pressure on, alt-rock doom warping in the sun with the inclusion of insistent piano. The finish line in sight, Firefriend are then at full swagger during the final furlong, slashing wildly with feedback and strangled guitar parts over relatively pretty melodies.

The band have long had a combustible way of making their point heard, and Dead Icons pours petrol on the embers of their back-catalogue while conflating many of the best guitar records in history with reverential glee. Sit back and watch them burn.

Best track: “Spin”

~Dead Icons is out now via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud Records.~