Sound — 6
In terms of execution, both Peter Weiland (vocals/guitar/bass) and Tyler Soucy (drums) demonstrate mastery of both their respective instruments and the art of DIY production. Weiland shows that his chops are built on years of alternative rock while puzzling the close listener as to whether this guitarist is secretly a formally taught jazz player. Soucy also shows great proficiency in driving any songs energy forward, but also proves his talents reach beyond to Latin feels and electronic sampling (see track 4 "Hey Tangerine!"). It seems all too fitting that the intelligent, but timid musical voice of Weiland is paired with Soucy on this album, who seems to play the role of slamming his fist down to create some attention for his partner.
Lyrics — 7
Brooklyn based indie-rock duo A Great Big Pile of Leaves takes on self-doubt in their precocious debut "The Fiery Works." Written and recorded in the context of two young artists ambitious, if not reckless dash toward success as musicians, conflicting feelings of apprehension and manic determination are delicately mixed throughout the album. This is apparent not only in the reoccurring lyrical themes of self-examination, elusive motivation, and daydreams, but also in the wide spectrum moods between tracks, instrumentally. The driving rock explore an aspiring songwriter's excitement when feeling inspired and confident, while the doodle-like guitars of dreamy tracks such as "User's Guide to a Coloring Book" confess his reluctance and apathy. There is a great deal of artistic depth to be found here by any listener interested in the personal battle of dream chasing.
Overall Impression — 7
When a band is talented enough to even their earliest works reach your ears, you get a snapshot record of the writers' transition from dreamer to artist. For A Great Big Pile of Leaves, this early development precipitates "The Fiery Works." The terrific anxiety that accompanies every young artist's ambitious first attempt against the daunting odds of reality pervades the album. Uncertainty, a constant need for self reassurance, manic periods declaring an ambition too strong to fail, and the eventual clarity outline the narrative of A Great Big Pile of Leaves' journey of establishing themselves in a spectacle of emotions, motivations, and challenges as exciting and serene as fiery works. Highly recommended for those with a taste for wailing vocals, elongated guitar doodling, and the romance of a day spent dreaming.