Charcoal Burners ’ album bears the sound of controlled emotional release; an atmospheric record with tension lingering beneath the surface. Multi-instrumentalist (and essence of the band) Andrew Spittle hails from Dunedin, his vocals, genuine but restrained, echo over detached guitar and drums.
The pace and instrumentation of these songs is reminiscent of Tindersticks, with an element of Dunedin sound, and a darker, post-punk atmosphere. All of this combines in such a way to suggest a hazy grey dream.
‘Orders From The House’ comes across as forthright and sincere, with a quiet intensity. Spittle’s lyrics illustrate a number of intriguing scenes, from burning up upon re-entry to the atmosphere (in the space-themed Gene Kranz – named after the waistcoat-wearing aerospace engineer and NASA flight director), dropping napalm from a B52 bomber (Darling One), to drawing from the bank of a relationship in Little More. Gentle piano playing fills the spaces, deftly accentuating passages of particular weight.
The eight tracks on this album are similar in terms of tone, sound, and tempo. The result of this is an album with few surprises, but also one that is easy to get lost in. The unrelenting melancholy is affecting, leaving a sense of being emotionally drained once reaching the end of the (excellent) closing track Dolls of the Valley.
A compelling record in terms of mood, that which is said, and the gaps left for the listener to fill.