In Scotland there are many indie rock bands and many of those bands sound much the same. Cursed with an inability to count chords more than their fingers, these bands are destined never to escape the confines of pay to play gigs. Every now and then, however, a band demonstrates an ambition to be heard beyond their family and friends. Watchfires are such a band and, remarkably, they hail from the all consuming greyness that is Aberdeen.
Their debut long player, “Ribbons and Shards”, neatly illustrates their potential. Whilst still clearly driven more by energy than skill, these four young men nonetheless strut through their songs with an uncommon sense of purpose with much of this purpose seeming to emanate from the theatrical vocal style of Ewan Donald who appears to regard it as his duty to spray paint his every word with all the colours of amplified emotion. So, while a song like “We Are Not Scared Of Ghosts” is very much Scottish indie rock by the numbers, he nonetheless breathes life into it. His true colours are never far from the surface though and the subtler charms of “The Gale That Roars” shows what he can do when given some space and a wee dram.
It would not do to forget the importance of the energy stored within this band. “All That Glitters”, for example, goes large on the red meat and hot sauce to guarantee victory in the crowd pleasing stakes. The relentless punk energy that powers “Elisabeth” onwards to the stage is similarly effective. What more could one want for transposition to both sides of one of those seven inch singles?
Too thoughtful, lyrically at least, and too theatrical to be classed as just another indie rock band, Watchfires have put their best foot forward here.