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Signer - Next We Bring You the Fire

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Artist: Signer

Album: Next We Bring You the Fire

Label: Carpark

Review date: Sep. 14, 2009

New Zealander Bevan Smith, who is Signer’s primary and sole constant member, aspires to make electronic music with real human warmth. It’s too bad that Next We Bring You the Fire is half over before you feel much heat.

It should not be that way, since he and a trio of abettors that includes Jeremy Coubrough (Mandrake), Ryan McPhun (The Ruby Suns), and Matthew Mitchell (Smith’s partner in Skallander) bring plenty of fuel to the pit. It’s hard to tell if the big bundle of high pitches that beam through “Break My Arms Around You” issues from synth, computer, or the MBV-FXed guitar that it most resembles, but it’s a sound that radiates bright light. The beats on “+kicks and kicks” sound like an invitation to stroll the dance floor at length, body parts casually touching. And the way Smith arranges his voice, which is as high and shy as the young Brian Wilson’s, is sufficiently accomplished – so much so that mentioning the Beach Boys feels appropriate, not lazy. But these elements gleam – as though they’re behind well-lit glass – rather than burn.

But if you get around to flipping the record over (and we’re not speaking metaphorically — it’s available on vinyl, but not CD), you might finally find out whether your antiperspirant is worth what you paid for it. “We Should Touch Teeth” draws you by patiently deploying and withdrawing contrasting electronic elements that build in density as the urgency rises in Smith’s voice. Stuttering beats kick in, then disappear into a big whorl of psychedelic sound that sets you up for the full-on blast of synths and electronic handclaps that seem to rush out from under the typically gentle singing on “Don’t Be A Forest Cow.” It would be swell to hear a whole album that fires at this level.

By Bill Meyer

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