Make no mistake about it. They may be operating under a different name, but The Fire Theft, for all intents and purposes, is Sunny Day Real Estate. One original SDRE member (Dan Hoerner) has been subtracted from the lineup and replaced by another original (Nate Mendel), the end result being a “debut” album that is an obvious, straight-line descendent of the past few SDRE records. All that they’ve really accomplished by changing the name is making it a bit more difficult for SDRE fans to find the record.
The Fire Theft continues to explore the prog-rock tendencies that began cropping up on The Rising Tide, fusing the sweeping bombast and pseudo-spiritual themes prog-rock holds dear with Jeremy Enigk’s unique, epic voice and the band’s post-punk assault. Long time SDRE producer Brad Wood is once again manning the decks to ensure that everything comes out as it should and in the record’s high points — and there are several — The Fire Theft are every bit as potent as Enigk and company’s earlier work.
“Chain” in particular, with its slow build to a screaming anthemic climax, stands quite comfortably with the very best tracks Enigk has ever penned. Unfortunately there are also a few points where the record just doesn’t seem to be quite finished. Some lyrical ideas seem only half-done and surprisingly simplistic for the always esoteric Enigk, while a couple tracks are built on little more than a single repeated guitar riff.
On the whole, The Fire Theft is a middling addition to the Jeremy Enigk/Sunny Day Real Estate canon. Which means it’s a hell of a lot better than most of what’s out there, but mildly disappointing when compared to SDRE’s early work.
Written by Chris Brown.