The Ready Aim Fire! - Strong Enough (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Ready Aim Fire!

Strong Enough (2008)


When a band themselves points out their influences and musical reference points they can be in for an uphill battle with the listener. In some respects, David Trautz's brainchild, The Ready Aim Fire!, share quite a few elements in common with the bands they cite; for instance like Bright Eyes they are somewhat of a one-man-band, and like Minus the Bear and Postal Service, the RAF! play a semi-electronic form of indie rock/pop. Those similarities are however, rather superficial but that doesn't keep Strong Enough from being a rather pleasant record.

In theory combining both electronic and more traditional rock-based instrumentation sounds like a fantastic idea, it open's up the possibility for a more diverse musical backdrop. However, it can also have the makings of directionless meandering. "The Elevator" exemplifies this perfectly, where the final crescendo in the last thirty seconds or so of the song are the only part that that distinguishes itself as Trautz's vocals soar over the music, repeating "We were never in love". The minimal bass-heavy, glitch dominated landscapes of "Til It Sings, Til It Screams" elevate Trautz's voice to the fore once again but never really picks up save for some jittery percussion work. "Skip Town" though almost sounds like a different band: it is full of energetic drums, interesting synth and guitar lines and most importantly it is catchy and hooky, it even throws in the word "fuck" without it coming off as contrived.

If I had to choose an adjective to describe David Trautz's voice it would be agreeable, and if I didn't have to I'd use it anyways because it fits. It reminds me a little bit of The Format's Nate Ruess, not all that distinctive but ideal for a good pop record. If the album title's reference in "The Artic Surge" is any indication, Strong Enough relates to one's ability to cope with the everyday stresses of interpersonal relationships. In some ways the album's stories remind me of a slightly more urbane Dashboard Confessional, as Trautz's tales are vague enough to have that universal appeal of love and loss that Mr. Carrabba does but there is a certain fluidity to his syntax that recalls driving through a city late at night.

While Strong Enough is far from a consistently great album there are enough inspired moments ("LA," "The Artic Surge") to make for an interesting and enjoyable listen. If Dave and company are able to pair down their loose ends and focus on their best qualities they could make something that thoroughly entices and excites the listener. Although on it's own merits Strong Enough could definitely satisfy someone looking for a slightly more straightforward Minus the Bear (which is isn't a bad thing at all).