Do you remember the magical feeling you have when you first fall in love? How you suddenly start smiling at nothing, as the whole world bursts into Technicolor? I had a similar experience as I was listening to Firestarter, the debut LP from Dan Parsons. At the tender age of 22, the talented Mr. Parsons has produced a record full of finely crafted indie-pop that is so ridiculously uplifting I’ve been walking around all week grinning like the Cheshire cat.
Parsons has walked away from his humble beginnings in acoustic folk that was witnessed with 2007’s Old Brown Shoe EP, and collaborated with friend James O’Brien (The Boat People) and producer John Castle (Washington) to bring us the full band sound. The result is pure pop perfection. Parsons has nailed the art of writing catchy three minute songs that are thoughtful, reflective, and a whole lot of fun. Firestarter is a boy meets world affair documenting Parsons journey – from leaving school and home, to the glorious independence felt when one comes to find a sense of themselves.
Highlights of the album include “Run With Me”, “Firestarter”, “I Can’t Watch You” and “Cedar Creek”. “Run With Me” is a pop gem that sports gorgeous guitar and vocal melodies, whilst exhibiting the lyrical maturity of a folk song. The title track “Firestarter” is a bouncy little ditty that reminds me a lot of The Boat People’s earlier work, with the simple guitar hooks and playful keyboards. “I Can’t Watch You” reels the listener in with an arse shaking drum line that is quickly overrun by driving guitars and Parson’s soothing vocals. It’s a charming song that could be mistaken for an outtake of Josh Pyke’s Memories & Dust record. Firestarter ends on a quiet note with “Cedar Creek”, a downbeat tribute to Parson’s Queensland upbringing, featuring sombre vocals interlaced with echoing piano that aches with a mournful beauty.
Firestarter is by no means a ground breaking record. Parsons has taken a lot from modern indie heroes Death Cab For Cutie and The Shins, and their influence is clearly heard throughout the album. What’s great about Dan Parsons is his seemingly effortless ability to mash up a host of genres to create flawless pop that is both melancholy and heartening. Firestarter is a solid debut that is a sign of promising things to come from one of Australia’s rising stars.
Review Score: 8/10