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The Fires of Life

Cool Hand Luke

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Album Review

Cool Hand Luke's sophomore effort finds the trio more fully integrating the various elements of its sound into a coherent whole, still working in a dreamy, slow to midtempo mode and downplaying obvious hooks in favor of lush, layered textures. Imagine, if you will, an unabashedly Christian version of the Cure, or perhaps a more fleshed-out Red House Painters. The songs were inspired by a particularly difficult year in the life of singer and drummer Mark Nicks, and they tend to deal with issues of anguish and emotional desperation and, finally, a renewal of faith. On "Sequence #3" Nicks revisits a standard doctrinal trope with the repeated line "I never really lived until I died with You," and on songs like "I'm Not Ready" and "Foster" he lays his own conversion process out in sometimes harrowing detail. The degree to which you find the album compelling will depend, in large part, on your willingness to sit through 11 tracks of songs with one overriding lyrical concern, all delivered at one tempo and governed by a single mood. It will also depend on your openness to explicit religiosity, which in this case extends to Bible cross-references in the lyric sheet. Musically, The Fires of Life grows on you; lyrically, you'll either hear it immediately or you probably won't at all.

The Fires of Life, Cool Hand Luke
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