Sound — 9
Ska and reggae have been gaining popularity in recent years, with bands such as Pepper, Big D & The Kids Table, and the newly reunited Sublime With Rome, and it's no surprise that this explosion has lead to newcomers trying to make their way into the scene. In my opinion, no band does this better than Passafire. These young men play a unique kind of reggae that, at times, delves away from traditional instrumentation to create a sound that is wholly their own. The opener, "Casting Off The Cares", is a laid back number, inviting you into the album with its pleasing guitar tones, laid back drums, and all around ambiance. This trend continues until Illuminate, which starts out with "gasp" riffing. But this isn't a band trying to ditch their root sound just for kicks, it actually sounds like it fits. The band itself is extremely tight and knows how to compose a great song. The few guitar solos on this album are also extreme ear candy, with tone and emotion overflowing through the player's instruments.
Lyrics — 9
The vocals may be the only semi-lackluster element to this album. While the band and their music breaks the mold when it comes to reggae composition, their vocalist does not. His croons are very reminiscent of early Sublime, and the harmonies remind me of Reel Big Fish. Though he doesn't stray from formula much, that doesn't mean he isn't good. He could easily hold his own with other vocalists in the modern scene: just not stick out very much. Lyrically, I can't help but smile or chill when I pay attention to the lines. Prelectricity is a lyrically strong number, illustrating a world before industrialization, where starlight illuminated the world in serene bliss. Standout lines from this album include: "From Illuminate": "I see a castle's built in your imagination You've won many battles fought inside yourself Why would you ever try to sever what's there And get right into, another situation" "Keeping In Touch": "Gentle precipitation Tactile screams stimulation Keeping in touch Inside a deep vibration" Overall, the happy-go-lucky or natural feel of the lyrics are a much needed highlight. Whereas most musical genres feed off of negativity and sorrow, Passafire's light optimism is a welcome surprise.
Overall Impression — 8
Passafire show they have what it takes to be a big name within their genre. Their chill, yet refreshing jams, combined with superbly written, optimistic lyrics, could be a breath of fresh air for fans of just about any genre. This album is best listened to outside, on a starry night with your best mates. Truly an all around amazing composition. For fans of: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Less Than Jake, Sublime.