BONFIRE RADICALS – The Albino Peacock (Burning Bones Records 2016/1)

The Albino PeacockRadical is an apt description for this Birmingham band who have welded together very different styles of music to make their debut album, The Albino Peacock. One the one side you have guitar, bass and drums and on the other, fiddle, recorders and clarinets. But folk-rock it isn’t even though two tracks are traditional. Imagine, if you can, an orchestra playing Beefheart and that covers about half the album. The other half is 60s/70s acoustic rock and the third half is folk(ish) in the manner of Gryphon. And don’t tell me that it doesn’t add up. I know.

Chief writer is bassman Trevor Lines. His most conventional piece here is ‘Lucy Hampton’s Wedding’, a suite comprising a waltz, a march and a song. It’s actually a good place to start the album, leaving ‘The Albino Peacock’ and ‘Coffee Countdown’ until later. That’s followed by ‘Malo’, an eastern European piece written by guitarist Andy Bole – he’s credited with playing eclectic 12-string and I don’t think that’s a misprint. Ruth Lindsay’s ‘The Left-Hand Reel’ is a slice of progressive folk-rock which leads into a traditional Swedish polska which has been given a thorough working over.

Finally we have ‘I Wish’ or ‘Died For Love’ if you prefer. It’s sung by Michelle Hollway in a voice that begins as a faux-little girl semi-lisp and becomes increasingly bitter until it’s finally double-tracked with an ethereal whisper The accompaniment is led by Katie Stevens’ clarinet over funereal drums from Liam Halloran. It’s a cracking arrangement and quite possibly the best thing on the record.

The Albino Peacock won’t be to everyone’s taste – the free-jazz style of the opening tracks come as a bit of a shock but show a little forbearance and you’ll find a lot to enjoy.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: http://www.bonfireradicals.com/

‘The Albino Peacock’ – official video:

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