A first, cursory listen to Girl on Fire's debut, Not Broken, brings to mind the anthem rock of the 90's, reinterpreted with a twist that is uniquely Girl on Fire. Even sitting in front of a computer, it's hard not to move your body or drum along on your desk. Only three songs in, images are forming of a dark, dirty rock club and the mass of bodies moving through the pit. This is clearly a band that begs to be seen live.
If you are not paying attention, it would be easy to write Girl on Fire off as one of 'those' bands; the ones who take a run on Warped Tour once or twice, then disappear only to re-emerge with a different line up and/or new name, but if you listen there is more to this band than the dark alternative rock on the surface.
Frontman Austin Held's voice is riveting. Through most of the album, there is a rough power, a gravelly-ness that sucks you right in, easily conveying the emotion of each song. When you reach Believe and the closing track Run, Held's voice softens, and he re-introduces himself with a vulnerable side that you might never have thought him capable of.
The vocals alone could carry this album, but why stop there? A counter-melody of guitars that seem to have voices of their own run underneath and alongside the lyrics. They compete with, but never overpower the vocals as they come together to bring you in, engulfing you in the emotion of whichever song you happen to be listening to.
Lyrically, Girl on Fire have an ability to make even darker themed songs sound somehow hopeful. Whatever heartache or tragedy inspired the songs on Not Broken is clearly not bringing this band down. With messages telling fans to fight: to overcome whatever obstacle comes their way, even when it seems overwhelming and fruitless, Girl on Fire have you believing you could succeed at anything.
Listen once, then again because you will not be able to stop.