Fires of Rome – You Kingdom You

January 01, 1970


You know a band is mysterious when they don’t even have a
Wikipedia page. Case in point: Fires of Rome, who pulls this year’s Vampire Weekend
by appearing out of absolutely nowhere to drop a debut album that mashes a
vintage-rock feel (fuzzy guitars, etc.) with modern flourishes (lots of upbeat
keyboards, etc.). With You Kingdom You,
Fires of Rome introduces the world to 10 solid tracks that are similar in tempo
and style – yet while Fires of Rome is successful in that vein, the band
doesn’t really present anything especially original.

The album starts off with “Dawn Lament,” which almost channels
Velvet Underground in its steady pace, swirling, driving guitars and uplifting
keyboards that surround singer Andrew Wyatt’s half-sneering, half-soaring
vocals. Things then start off funky and Clash-like with “Set in Stone,” but the
chorus becomes unabashedly poppy, as Wyatt coos “But you won’t let go/Set in
stone” over and over again to an unnecessarily clingy girlfriend who just can’t
take a hint.

And varied influences continue throughout the album, as glam
rock takes center stage on “Songs as Yet Unsung” (it’s very New York
Dolls-like) and clapping, guitar distortion and maybe even a cowbell back up
Wyatt’s cooler-than-cool warning to “don’t fuck with me when I’m not sober” on
“Bronx Bombardier,” which feels kind of like if David Bowie had a love child
with Will Ferrell’s “more cowbell!” guy.

But while the album is perfectly precise – and still feels
raw, not over-produced – there isn’t anything here that other musicians haven’t
done before. The album takes a lot of influence, according to the band’s own
press release, from “Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin, Cat Stevens, Prince, Sting,
The Kinks and many more,” and if you’ve listened to any of those groups, you
won’t find anything new or different from Fires of Rome. Sure, You Kingdom You is a solid debut – but
for all its 40 minutes, it’s far more derivative than it is innovative.

Standout Tracks: “Dawn Lament,” “Bronx Bombardier” ROXANA

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