16 May 2011

The Douglas Firs - Happy as a Windless Flag: Track By Track

Today sees the release of the debut album from former Fresh Meat starlets, The Douglas Firs. Now this isn't the most comfortable of listens, for me it took a long while before the album actually sank in. It's very much a late in the evening kind of album, that the band reckon would be verging on prog-rock if they could play their instruments - their words, not mine. It's the kind of album that you will love or hate, there is no in between. Personally I think it's a great wee album, hence the reason why I asked them to do this Track By Track. Right I think that's enough of my rambling pish, I'll pass you across to Neil from the band to talk you through 'Happy as a Windless Flag'...

I Will Kill Again

This song is literally a song of suicide, as the protagonist of the song waves goodbye to everything, and himself. it is a farewell to doctrines of self proclaimed visionaries, false causes, delusions, fear; an acknowledgement that we can never really know the world for what it really is. there's also a goodbye to romantic thought, and ends feeling a bit useless and tired. the "bloody landing rag and tooth" line is autobiographical - from when I was a postman in Aberdeen and found some grizzly scenes whilst climbing tenements.

A Military Farewell

This was just a bit of fun because i liked the song, the harmonies, and it fit in with the record thematically. it follows the dull thud of suicide, jumping from a great height. this is the version paratroopers used to sing in WW2 - they were terrified they'd get caught in their parachutes and just fall to their death.


The cover became less funny the older the recording got, and I've noticed it has annoyed several reviewers! it leads into a short cover song originating from near where i was born, called "yellow's on the broom", then there is a funereal march called "sepulture" (literally meaning 'tomb').

Future State

Future State is supposed to be passing into another life. though I don't necessarily believe there is an afterlife. probably just blackness, forever?

The Quickening

The Quickening is a song about being born, being comforted by the feeling of safety until you're old enough to understand the horrors of the world. the lyrics are supposed to be quite simplistic, and there are a couple of deliberate references in there but I won't say what. But ultimately the song is a celebration of the camaraderie that exists when people get together to play music, and this represents this false comfort we have as children.

The Shadow Line

"The Shadow Line" is about an imaginary line that we cross from youth into maturity. the first stanza is about 'endless' youth like a drawn-out note. the second is about sentimentality failing, and fading. then old age / death arrives, a bit like a giant storm that we know is coming, eventually.

Balance of Halves

"Balance of Halves" is about leaving the freedoms of our early days behind, but sometimes there are flashes of that ecstatic youthful feeling throughout the rest of life. I suppose it is this transient feeling that provokes middle aged people to buy Ferraris and have ludicrous affairs with younger men/women. though perhaps I'm just upset that I'll never own a Ferrari.

Grow Old and Go Home

"Grow Old and Go Home" is about the feeling of fatigue and uselessness, and soundtracks my walk home to my old flat in Edinburgh. I could hear the trains rattling over Abbeyhill as I drifted off to sleep.


"Soporific" is about dreaming dreams where you are sort of watching yourself take part. it feels like this to me sometimes in waking life as well. it's a song about surrendering to sleep, and it being a little like death in some ways. I've always had pretty bad nightmares, but when i lived in Aberdeen it was interspersed literally with the screams of people outside (I lived in the thick of town).

The Douglas Firs play live at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh on the 18th of June. 'Happy as a Windless Flag' is available to buy now from their Bandcamp page for just £5.


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