Sometimes what we need to hear doesn’t come wrapped up in the package we expect.
Sometimes the most beautiful melodies are hiding not-so-beautiful messages.
Sometimes pop music needs someone like firestarter to burn everything down in her EP Pathological Narcissism, so we can try and listen better.
The titular single has all the hallmarks of a classic pop song: a infectiously singable hook; a catchy bass line; shimmery synths; a danceable beat; lyrics centred around love and feelings of unworthiness. What it doesn’t have is a faux-perfect lacquer covering the messiness that love can be. It’s a love song where the artist is “a piece of shit” and where the digital strings and beeps are singing their own angular melodies instead of melting in to the background.
Compare this to the EP’s opening track “G-I-R-L-C-O-C-K” which has drones and modulated voices building to the track’s zenith where we hear the inspiration for the song’s name in a two person scene spoken by firestarter that reflects two persons very different kinds of distaste towards the other. It is markedly less covered in pop sensibility, but incredibly direct and capable of conveying emotion.
Somewhere in the middle lies a track like “Broken Mirror” which opens with a heartbreaking vocal and guitar duet reminiscent of early emo music before the hook is surrounded by the yin and yang of a twinkling electronic pattern and a repeated chainsawing guitar riff. The repetition and lyrics speaks to an inevitability, and to me a feeling that somehow is both accepting and defiant.
So this Friday, are you willing to take in the ugly message in the beautiful music? What about a beautiful message in “ugly” music? You can buy the EP, or you can see the music live.
You owe it to yourself to attend a firestarter show. Maybe you can make it this one?
- Jon Neher