For anyone who is familiar with Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s F# A# ∞, it will be almost impossible to read the name of The Car Is On Fire and not quickly be filled with the creeping dread that accompanies that phrase.
For ‘The car is on fire’ is the opening spoken-word snippet from Dead Flag Blues, a song that is as cheerful as a bucket of dead baby puppies; the audio equivalent of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, only bleaker.
How cunning, then, of The Car Is On Fire to pick a name associated with such dreadful fear as a peg to hang a section of delightfully upbeat and cheerful songs off. This false-signifier name-trick is pulled again on songs like What Makes Me Cry, which is approximately 1% as gloomy as its title suggests.
What Makes Me Cry is more carefree than a bus-load of teenagers on a school trip, and as youthfully exuberant too. Gentle and twee it may be, but there’s world-weariness lingering below the surface, tempering any aspirations to exhaust the band’s ambition.
Thus, after a few feverish repeat-spins of this song, we reach a strange impasse – on the next listen of Dead Flag Blues will The Car Is On Fire wiggle their way into the consciousness? Will they blunt the evil edge? Will spontaneous jaunty whistling follow suit? The fact that this is even a concern marks them out as the cheekiest of talents. Great.