Every Farseek song is like a prayer. Cameron Harrison calls out for deliverance, but he isn’t entreating help from an unseen God; on the band’s new LP Who Can Start the Fires?, he’s talking to me and you. Despite that, it’s the most confident the band’s ever sounded.
The project has existed as a vessel for Harrison’s songwriting since 2014, in one form or another. On Who Can Start the Fires?, they’ve embraced their status as a collective in flux based in the southeastern US; they’ve also begun to hone in on the southern part of their identity, with Tailer Ransom contributing banjo to nearly half the songs on the record. But their evolution exists outside of rigid genre constraints; songs like “Crying” take the breakneck pace of punk and fill in the spaces with the bleating of a trumpet and waves of keys, where “Clouded by Hubris” is a dreamy, washed-out spin on classic country. It’s a far cry from the emo-pop Farseek made their bones on.
Lyrically, though, Harrison’s sights haven’t changed so much. Just as we’re still dealing with the same ills currently that we were in 2014, he’s still railing against them; on “Doom Scroll,” he tackles the ways the internet can unknowingly radicalize you, on “Keeping Me Down” the rise of overt white supremacy, and on “Pride” the subtler forms it can take—your neighbor’s blue lives matter sign, say. But it’s on songs like “Part of the Problem” where Farseek’s vision congeals. The song is about “unchecked biases and gut impulses to immediately defend the status quo,” about the ways we can perpetuate systems of oppression and dehumanization without thinking. But that means it’s also a song about the choice we have to challenge those beliefs in ourselves, in others. The optimistic vision that underpins those tracks is echoed in the album’s more traditional love songs, such as “Declaration of Affection” or “New Short Haircut,” and even its less traditional ones, like “Crying,” about the way Harrison’s cat Stormy would cry every time he left for work. It’s a tender song, and like “Declaration,” it’s one grounded in the understanding that love is a give-and-take, a necessarily shared experience. That’s ultimately the vision Who Can Start the Fires? imparts on the listener. Anyone can start a fire, but the only way to put it out is together.