Smoke Fairies - Smoke Fairies

A largely mixed bag of lyrically intelligent but sometimes slightly weak songs.

Label: Full Time Hobby


There has always been something quite enticing about music that delves into the realms of the ethereal. Esoteric crooners like Kate Bush, Annie Clark of St Vincent and more recently Stealing Sheep have all done pretty well in touching on that part of the brain that yearns for something a little out of the ordinary. Something that makes you feel that you’re tumbling down the rabbit hole with Alice into Wonderland, or that the Cottingley fairies are actually real and might just pop into the garden for a quick hello. Smoke Fairies, although very much real, have developed their sound on this self-titled third album into something a little more mystical than before. The result is a largely mixed bag of lyrically intelligent but sometimes slightly weak songs, all with a distinct air of the celestial.

‘We’ve Seen Birds’ is a strong opener and it’s only after listening to the rest of the record a few times that it becomes apparent why. On several tracks, notably ‘Hope is Religion’, Smoke Fairies attempt to layer different percussion and vocals in unexpected ways, and the result is all a little disorganised and incoherent. The reason ‘We’ve Seen Birds’, and indeed all the best moments on the record, excel, is that they are so simple. Short, memorable lyrical hooks are key here, and as long as they are around then an interesting guitar line in the background doesn’t go amiss. ‘Waiting For Something To Begin’ is this theory exemplified and one of the strongest moments on record as a result

Shimmering harps on ‘Koto’ reinforce the feeling of fantasy, but then ‘The Very Last Time’ sees the Fairies try some new vocal styles that put everything out of kilter again. Just as it started strong, so it ends it also. ‘Are You Crazy’ ends on an elated note and feels like Smoke Fairies have found some sort of meaning at the end of all the wandering through this album of peaks and troughs.