Having already made a fine account of themselves on Today
, the three members of Galaxie 500 got even better with On Fire
, recording another lovely classic of late-'80s rock. As with all the band's work, Kramer
once again handles the production, the perfect person to bring out Galaxie 500's particular approach. The combination of his continued use of reverb and the sudden, dramatic shifts in the music -- never exploding, just delivering enough of a change -- makes for fine results. Consider "Snowstorm," with Krukowski's soft-then-strong drums and Wareham's liquid solo and how they're placed in the mix, leading without dominating. Yang's vocals became more prominent and her bass work more quietly narcotic than before, while Krukowski adds more heft to his playing without running roughshod over everything, even at the band's loudest. In contrast, Wareham more or less continues along, his glazed, haunting voice simply a joy to hear, while adding subtle touches in the arrangements -- acoustic guitar is often prominent -- to contrast his beautifully frazzled soloing. Leadoff track "Blue Thunder" is the most well-known song, and deservedly so, another instance of the trio's ability to combine subtle uplift with blissed-out melancholia, building to an inspiring ending. There's more overt variety throughout On Fire
, from the more direct loner-in-the-crowd sentiments and musical punch of "Strange" to the Yang-sung "Another Day," a chance for her to shine individually before Wareham joins in at the end. Again, a cover nods to past inspirations, with George Harrison
being the songwriter of choice; his "Isn't It a Pity" closes out the album wonderfully, Kramer adding vocals and "cheap organ." Inspired guest appearance -- Ralph Carney
, Tom Waits'
horn player of choice, adds some great tenor sax to the increasing volume and drive of "Decomposing Trees." [The 2010 re-release of On Fire
, on Krukowski and Yang's 20/20/20 label, adds the Peel Sessions
collection previously released on 20/20/20 in 2005, as a bonus disc].