Track Premiere: Photo Fire – “Lilac”

Posted: by The Editor

Florida’s DIY scene has gone from a surprisingly steady source of fresh new bands to a tidal wave that keeps increasing in size. Every day I log on to Twitter dot com and see at least one band from Florida that has seemingly materialized overnight. And, more importantly: an improbable percentage of them are very, very good.

Photo Fire is part of this wave of very good new bands, but they’re one of the only ones with an “artrock” tag on Bandcamp. The Saint Petersburg-based band is doing something distinct from the general emo-punk direction of Florida DIY. When I go to smaller shows at bars and coffee shops and abandoned Blockbusters and what-have-you in Florida, I’m used to being impressed by a young band’s energy; I’m not used to being impressed by their gracefulness like I was the first time I saw Photo Fire. Their spacious sound blends lush synth textures and ethereal guitar with the gentle croon of singer Hunter Walker, whose voice gives their music the same kind of warm emotiveness that made Lydia’s Illuminate a cult classic.

“Lilac,” is a captivating slow burn, burbling synths swirling around the dual vocals of Walker and new addition Annie Perkins. The song is carefully arranged: the word that keeps coming to mind when I listen to is “orchestrated,” everything placed precisely like watch gears. The crisp production creates space for every instrument to layer in its individual tones that stack up into towering, atmospheric indie rock. Lilac” is the first single off of the band’s upcoming album, scheduled for release in January 2020, which the band recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered themselves. About the new album, guitarist Ricky Kenny says, “The record and most everything engulfed in it is catharsis, through and through. It’s been a huge outlet for some really pivotal moments for the whole band. Our lives before the record are unrecognizable compared to now, and it’s only been a year and a half. Serious loss, serious love, etc.: just some massively fundamental uprooting.”

You can hear that catharsis in the chorus of “Lilac,” the band’s restraint belying the intensity of the emotion: “Find what you’re lacking, once you stop searching / Can you start to feel guilt and shame calling your name. The band may have gone through their own personal uprooting, but Photo Fire sounds incredibly grounded.

Stream it below:

Single artwork by Haley Butters.


Keegan Bradford | @franziamom

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