Articles tagged with Firs

Major Tom returns home

Firs - Man in Space
David Bowie released the breakthrough single “Space Oddity” in 1969, meaning that it’s been 40 years since Major Tom lost contact with Ground Control and was stranded in space. In 1980, Bowie revisited the character on “Ashes to Ashes,” but only as a metaphor for drug use (in which astronaut = junkie).

Firs is a synth pop duo from Cincinnati, made up of Pomegranates frontman Joey Cook and vocalist Sophia Cunningham. Man in Space, the pair’s debut album, is loosely based around a lost astronaut’s miraculous return to earth after decades of orbiting the planet without radio contact. It’s not clear if Firs’ spaceman is the same character as Bowie’s, but it’s tough the deny the similarities: Man in Space‘s opening track,”The Descent,” begins with the lyric “40 years / I’ve been circling / Ringing ’round the earth.” On the next song, “Welcome Home,” Cunningham takes on the voice of the stunned onlookers, singing “Oh my God / Could it be? / 40 years since he left home / Such a long time to be alone.”

mp3: “Welcome Home”

Not every song on the album follows the narrative as closely as the first two tracks: it’s difficult to interpret “Day at the Beach” as being about anything other than what the title suggests. But despite these variations in subject matter, the collection is tied together by the arrangements—each song segues seamlessly into the next, and every track is a wash of dreamy synth pads and buzzy keyboards. Occasionally, thundering percussion and fuzzed-out bass enter the mix, as on the dancefloor-ready “Realizing the Meaning.” Typically, however, the collection favours new age-y mellowness over noisy rock-outs. Cook and Cunningham split vocal duties evenly, but their high, breathy voices sound so similar that it’s difficult to tell them apart—this is especially noticeable when they harmonize, their voices blending into a single, androgynous purr.

The album ends with “Now I Understand,” a gentle Cunningham-fronted ballad. Rather than the cosmic revelation you might expect from the title, it’s actually heart-wrenchingly romantic, featuring the lyric “Please take it on blind faith / I will love you always.” Placed as the album’s finale, it suggests that the spaceman storyline may have been an allegory for love all along. Whether it’s intended as a continuation of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” narrative, or if it represents the disorientation of falling in love, Man in Space is a gorgeous album with enough lyrical intrigue to merit repeated listens.

Man in Space is out now via Lujo.
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