Friendly Fire Recordings is a label with one hell of a track record. No duds. No slow periods. No boring releases. And certainly, the eclectic label can't be fingered as going along with any trends (I use "trend" in a negative manner here). Mind, this is the company that brough you both the sultry wall-of-sound shoegaze of Asobi Seksu and the hypnotic psych-pop of the Whitsundays. BBBD gives a big thumbs up to Friendly Fire.
The NYC-based label's latest offering is Camphor's (MySpace) debut LP, Drawn to Dust. What an immaculate album! Imagine a sublimely produced re-do of Beck's Sea Change. This is vibrant folk-rock that's truly understated by either of those two classifications joined by a hyphen. (It ain't "folk" and it's not straight-up "rock" -- think outside the box!)
The record has folk elements -- in terms of its use of vocals and rhythm guitar it drips of the genre -- but listen to "The Sweetest Tooth" three, four times (I'm now on my seventh spin), and your ear will be delighted to turn up much, much more beneath the surface. Sparse drumming that sensually intertwines with an old-timey piano ditty; a Wurlitzer-esque line accents the layered and soft-spoken singing; a climax coming in around the 1:45 mark -- "Give me something for the pain!/A little something for it" -- only to descend back into a refreshed verse (with a hint of violin).
Camphor's debut is expertly constructed and arranged, and -- more importantly -- catchy and hooking. Put this one on and you'll be hard pressed to find a good reason to skip any song, ignore a few here and there, or pull one in particular as a favorite.
Camphor - The Sweetest Tooth