• The Record Press

The Fire a single by Rory Mclean

Updated: May 4, 2021

“Rock-and-roll is dead”, or so they say. But not if Rory McLean has anything to do with it. A sharp turn from his previous release (the electro-rock Waiting For The Night), his latest single The Fire brings us a four-and-a-half rollocking romp of crunching guitar music.

From the opening seconds of the hum of an amplifier and that familiar sound of a guitar being plugged in, we get the promise of what’s to come – guitar music, plain and simple. The drums kick in to a pumping beat, overlaid with single guitar chords, bent slowly creating an atmospheric feeling, and a high-pitched spark (like the sound of a match being struck in slow motion, fed through an echo) generating tension; all the this backdrop to a spoken word introduction. “If those flames grow high and wild, they will burn you alive.” A thick, muddy bassline rolls in, the fire is lit, the distorted, flanged guitar strikes, wide in the stereo-space and we are engulfed by those flames. The Black Keys instantly come to mind when searching for a comparison (RP Editor, Stephanie, suggests Nothing But Thieves, but I respectfully disagree). McLean’s vocals are understated and sit low in the mix, forcing us to focus more on the aural landscape than the lyrical content.

At this stage, the song’s structure and layering is relatively simple, guitars and drums not letting up, marching on through this fast-paced stomp. Just on the verge of the song starting to feel repetitive, we’re offered a breath of fresh air from the smoke, as the layers are stripped back to bass and percussion, and McLean effortlessly shifts to a pleasing falsetto reminiscent of Tame Impala’s Currents. This guides us into the bridge section: Layered vocals, the return of that high-pitched spark and a muffled guitar motif peeping through from the background. The remainder of the song is a reprise of the chorus, featuring that falsetto for the second repeat, with roaring cymbals and guitar. The track finishes with the aesthetically pleasing sustain of the final notes ringing out (I’m not one for faded-out finishes), and the amplifier hum and guitar static that introduced the song. Sharp-eared listeners will spot what sounds like a metronome bleeding through to the microphone. My guess is that this is unintentional, but I’m a huge fan of these glimpses behind-the-scenes of the recording process, when the state of contemporary music can often feel stale and manufactured. Small features like this add character to a song and humanise them, and it reflects the rawness of McLean’s sounds.

It’s rare that I get excited by a release from a new artist. There is a market saturation of perfectly fine, but unexciting music being released by small bands, often just rehashing the current tropes and trends (someone please take away those excessive reverb pedals from indie rock guitarists). With The Fire, however, McLean punches through the noise, a mean feat for only his second single. The production is top-notch too, a rarity for small-time musicians. McLean has captured an energy and rawness in this single that stands out from the pale. If you listen to only one song today, make sure it’s The Fire. And in the meantime, I’ll be keeping an eye on McLean – I’m excited to hear what he brings us next.

Rory Mclean's new single The Fire is coming out on the 8th Match 2021

You can find his single Waiting for the Night HERE

Written by Alexander Wright

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