As with most members of the nu-folk Fence Collective, singer-songwriter James Mathe lurks behind a pseudonym on this first full-length release, the name Barbarossa apparently reflecting his red-bearded countenance. Recorded rapidly, with the emphasis on spontaneity, Chemical Campfires perches on the cusp of folk and pop, Mathe's folksy compositions swathed in arrangements which augment his guitar and plangent tenor vocals with banjo, harmonium, violin, clarinet, and whatever else was to hand. Hence the bricolage of small noises that opens "We Are Lit", derived from such studio bric-à-brac as crisp packets, pencil tins and tennis balls, counterbalanced as the song progresses by Mathe's long-held vocal notes and harmonium drone. His songs deal mostly with everyday emotions - love, regret, disappointment - but the best both employ fiery metaphors: in "Lines", he complains that "the bird of the sun is burning everyone/Creating all these lines around my eyes", while elsewhere the album's most mellifluous harmonies and genial groove are dispensed to support the request, "Don't turn your back on us/We're burning daylight".
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