A new Fir Cone Children album is a cause to celebrate at the Static Sounds Clubhouse. Alexander Donat’s shoegaze punk project has always produced the most uplifting, optimistic music. Given that this is one of many musical projects he’s involved with I’m constantly in awe of his work ethic. Not only that, but his ability also to maintain such a high level of quality. Today There’s No Tomorrow is Fir Cone Children’s eighth album to date. Donat made it his goal to dedicate each of his Fir Cone Children albums to the lives of his two daughters (now aged 7 and 9), releasing one album every year. I asked Donat what the title of this album refers to.
“The record’s title is a two-bladed sword. It does refer to having a good time and getting lost in the moment, but it also says that we live in troubling times, and it seems like we have to take action now and today, in order to still have a planet to live on tomorrow. It’s a now-or-never situation.”
Looks like we are in for an evolution in the sound of Fir Cone Children. Let’s dive in.
We open on the joyous abandon of ‘Pull It Out’. An ode to a wobbly tooth that just won’t fall out. First impressions are that Donat is going harder at these tunes than ever before. He uses the scuzziest, scratchiest guitar tones whilst the drums are going hell for leather. The dreamy notes are left to the vocals. Put together, it’s that signature uplifting FCC feel but delivered in a totally new medium.
‘Way Up North’ delivers us no respite in pace. In fact, we up the bpm’s considerably. This is exhilarating listening. Donat has really changed up his modus operandi and it’s gloriously successful. He’s really going for it on this one, frantic but precision drumming, dreamy glide guitar thrashed out and vocals that mirror the fun we, as the listener, are having.
‘Head In The Clouds’ is wonderfully dynamic. Each verse does its own thing which keeps you on your toes. Vocally he’s at his most outlandish which for me is when he’s at his best. It really baffles me how he can use all these out there techniques yet at the core is a fantastic and catchy song. That always shines through.
Donat’s kids are obviously fans of school from listening to ‘Quite Okay With Mondays’. I love the stop start sections in this one. Couple with that “ba ba ba” hook he has going on and I’m smiling ear to ear.
The pace drops for a moment on the sprawling post punk, almost goth track ‘An Inch At A Time”. Donat illustrating how much of a musical chameleon he is capable of being. This is a dark number undoubtedly but, wow! You still feel that energy and drive and that ever present buoyant vibe that pervades all of his music.
Next up we dive headlong into up-tempo ‘No Mercy’. Once again proving he has choruses for days Donat produces another lesson in how to write hooks that grab you and don’t let go. Wait until you hear the last 15 seconds. Vocal harmonies like you’ve never heard before! Breathtaking stuff.
‘But Does It Break’ kicks off like a Blur song from their self-titled album era. It lurches along magnificently all angular and spiky. Then halfway through it blossoms into this ever shifting and evolving psychedelic maelstrom. It’s amazing how much this guy can cram into three minutes.
I can hear another nineties band in the following track, ‘Travelling Dune’. If you listen at a certain angle there’s something of latter-day Supergrass in there. A more sedate pace is the order of the day as a rolling guitar riff and syncopated drums lay out the path before us. There’s a real understated cool to this song, both is style and substance. It feels like this has been an idea that Donat has brought to full fruition through a few incarnations. It just feels fully realised.
The eco anthem ‘If You Don’t Get Words’ follows. Dealing with the confusion that his kids feel when faced with ongoing environmental damage, caused by adults who know the damage they are causing, but do it anyway. The frustration is evident in the fevered pace and spat lyrics.
The album closes on ‘Certified in Purple’, from I can tell, about his kids sporting achievements. He sounds proud as punch in the lyrics and has wrapped this song in a gossamer haze and packed it with interesting nuances at every turn. A stunning end to this crazy sonic journey.
I’ve listened to Today There’s No Tomorrow loads over the past week. Each time I reach the end I always feel exhausted, energised and elated. That for me is a Fir Cone Children album in a nutshell. There has been a radical revolution in his sound since his previous album, It Chooses You. The speed and intensity of his playing, the layers to his vocals are really amped up this time around. What hasn’t changed is the unbridled joy in each and every track. Long may that continue.
Today There’s No Tomorrow is available now on Cassette, CD and digital from Blackjack Illuminists Bandcamp Page.
You can follow Fir Cone Children on social media here…