Album review: "Like a Fire That Consumes All Before It..."
By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, Feb. 3, 2012
As Adam Arcuragi bellows in a robust, raspy tenor over a band playing fiddle, trumpet, banjo, steel guitar, glockenspiel and bass drum, you can imagine them standing on the white-painted bandstand in the village green of a small town in 19th-century America. You can imagine Bon Iver, the Decemberists and the Low Anthem taking their turns on the same bandstand as well. It's neo-gazebo-rock, and Arcuragi's new album, "Like a Fire That Consumes All Before It . . .
," is a welcome addition to the burgeoning genre.
Arcuragi isn't much of a lyricist - his songs are full of glib paradoxes and facile surrealism - but he's a terrific singer and bandleader. The album's highlight comes at the end of "The Well," when he leaves the fragmentary imagery behind. In his big, grainy voice, he sings the same couplet, "Won't it be something to see / When we ache no more," over and over, as his band, the Lupine Chorale Society, crests in a wave of vocal and string-band harmonies driven forward by the brilliant drummer Robby Cosenza.
On songs such as this and "Oh I See," "Last Long Rain" and "Come On, Come On," Arcuragi achieves a big, surging sound more muscular than the dreamscapes of Bon Iver and Low Anthem, more memorable than his own lyrics and more moving than the typical strum-along.