Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Salt Show Versatility Is A Strength On Their Latest Album ‘Fairytale on Fire’

Scotland has its fair share of musical heritage and Salt, out of Edinburgh, are more than happy to add to that. After 2022 saw them release their critically acclaimed sophomore album ‘Cellophane’, the experienced Scottish rockers are back with their bombastic and eclectic new album – ‘Fairytale on Fire’.  

Opener ‘Halo’ is a perfect introduction to a band that aren’t scared to wear their influences on their sleeves. The track sways between genres as diverse as ska and big music, pioneered by their fellow Edinburgh natives The Waterboys. With its funky and fast-paced bass intro combining with lead singer Sharon Woods' playful lyrics, where she playfully teases for you to “Take that back you silly thing”, Halo’ makes you take notice. 

Follow-up and lead single ‘Boxcar´ is a far more frantic affair. Detailing the story and feelings of freedom that comes from freighthopping, Woods now distorted vocals make the people that controversially became known as ‘hobos’ come to life in this vivid tale of life on the move. 

An album highlight comes from the title track ‘Fairytale on Fire’. The slow-burning masterpiece commences with ethereal guitars and subtle synth lines with Woods strangely understated vocals asking “Why can’t we fly like everyone?” in a beautifully poignant manner. It comes as a jarring shock when heavily distorted guitars crash into the song, where the shoegaze style combined with explosive sounds is reminiscent of another favourite Scottish band The Jesus and Mary Chain.  

The ska influences continue on the upbeat ‘Clip That Girls Wings’ and ‘Tumbleweed’ whilst the western-inspired ‘Cold White Hands’ and ‘Dust’ add some variety with their spaghetti western style sounds. The former track, in particular, does a good job at transporting the listener to the wild west with it’s excellent use of a harmonica and flowing bass riffs. 

Salt once again reverts to an emotional ballad with the exceptional ‘Broken Toys’. The straining lyrics provided by Wood are once again, as is often the case with this album, the highlight of the track. “Your life beguiles me and I’m lost / Take your hand in mine / Save me” she utters with a painful tone in her voice. The slow piano and subtle synths are similar to other slow track ‘Fairytale on Fire’, ‘Broken Toys’ however, maintains its slow pace throughout, adding to its heavy and emotional themes. 

The album's penultimate track, ‘I Hate You All’ see’s Salt finally show off their raw punk sensibilities for the first time. Woods sneering vocals are joined by basic but effective power chords as the band gives a perfect ode to the Sex Pistols. The closer, however, is Salt at their fast-paced best, where the ska and post-punk influences return in a soaring goodbye. 

Fairytale on Fire’ is an album that flows from one genre to the next, but it never does it in a way that jars the listener. What can be found here is shoegaze, ska, punk and some emotional and heart-wrenching ballads laced throughout. Yet, each song feels like it has found its perfect place and Woods versatile delivery means the band never feels like they’re changing their sound for the sake of it, but rather that they simply want to inhabit the sonic space they have created.  

James Ogden 

Image: ‘Fairytale on Fire’ Official Album Cover

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