EP Review Carl Barat - Death Fires1-5 Stars
That there’s a cover of ‘Sing For My Supper’ says most of what you need to know about ‘Death Fires’.
Someone says “I have a bad feeling about this” in each of the six Star Wars films. They must have pre-empted this release from Carl Barat. It’s not that we dislike the man you understand, but releasing an EP of offcuts from an album that next-to-no-one bought is a bit like trying to reform Dirty Pretty Things. Sure, you could do it. But why?
The scepticism it turns out isn’t unfounded. Much has been made of Barat’s thespian tenancies across the course of the campaign for the self-titled record and on this EP they really do come across. Embarrassingly. That there’s a cover of ‘Sing For My Supper’ says most of what you need to know about ‘Death Fires’. It sounds like it belongs in a low-key musical that you would never buy the soundtrack CD for.
In fairness, it’s the title track that’s the least cringeworthy here. ‘Death Fires Burn At Night’ does have a decent vocal performance from our leading man, that although overwrought prove a link to his garage rock roots in that band. The guitars are scrappy enough that it would just about pass if not for the needlessly dramatic brass interludes and parping bass.
‘Grimaldi’ is worse. Faux-medieval folk it’s the sort of music that you’d expect from a Monty Python sketch but without joking about it. The choruses do drop the lutes but retain the echoing percussive thumps. If you find this coming through your headphones you’ll spend the duration of the track hoping people can’t overhear. It’s a little bit embarrassing and a lot naff.
Treated a lot better in the production department is the appallingly titled ‘This Is The Song’. It’s with a delicate touch that the piano and reverb is applied, the extra orchestration falling into place. Naggingly it’s Barat that’s the problem here. “He’s going to get his fucking head kicked in / He’s gonna die in a fucking loony bin / Darlin’ / Oh’ Darlin” is the chorus. Say no more. Perhaps across here there’s one decent song, but at no point does it come together on the same track. Sorry Carl, but there’s nothing here for us.
Still, it could be worse. Two words: Baby and Shambles.
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