Followers of Joyzine will be no stranger to Firestations who have graced these digital pages with their warm psych-tinted electronica for years. Having brought us many fine stand alone tracks and EPs it’s exciting to have a full album of material to luxuriate in, and Thick Terrain doesn’t disappoint. Michael Cranny, Laura Copsey, Martin Thompson, Tom Hargreaves and Neil Walsh have created ten tracks so lush it’s like enjoying a perfect tasting menu at a high-end restaurant.
The band has a new bass player, Neil Walsh, after Giles Littleford departed for the Midlands, and the new line-up went into Otterhead Studios, Warwickshire, in mid-2022 to write and record the tracks that make up this release. New blood and the crucible of a focussed writing/recording period has born fruit and Thick Terrain is one of the band’s strongest and most cohesive releases to date. Of the album name, Michael Cranny says “You just sort of have to go fishing in your subconscious until you catch something that speaks to you. We had a series of pub-based meetings, where we free-associated some of the meanings of the songs, just blurted things out and wrote them down. The regulars probably thought we were crazy.”
Synesthetes of the world could probably get lost in the colour palette this album inspires. All the songs are layered in such a way that they swaddle you with perfectly blended guitar, bass, drums, and synthesisers. And, oh what tunes that captivate with the ease of how they move from unison singing to entrancing harmonies. Standout moments for me are the keyboard hook in ‘Undercover’, the spiky electric guitar over smooth acoustic on ‘Hitting A New Low’, the harmony suspensions on ‘Travel Trouble’, the tremolo underpinning the Simon & Garfunkel-esque ‘Also Rans’, the arpeggio that bubbles through ‘Swim Under The Water’ and the galaxy-wide chorus harmonies on final track ‘Stillness’.
Thick Terrain is another peacock feather in the Lost Map Record’s cap. Firestations stretch time and give us psychedelic marshmallow treats, the feeling of being ticked by clouds or being gently swept along on a lazy riverboat journey, cocktail in one hand and an ice cream sundae in the other.
Review by Paul F Cook