Shrugging Off the Spectre of that Daunting Second Album

“They say you have your whole life to write your first record and then six months to write your second.”

Tall Firs’ Aaron Mullan exudes equal parts maturity and wide-eyed enthusiasm for the creative environment that has culminated in their expansive second release Too Old to Die Young. When Aesthetica caught up with half of the Brooklyn songwriting partnership, we were given an insight into the production process and an indication as to how the band managed to shrug off the spectre of that daunting second record.

When asked about the contrast between the first and second album Aaron reflects, “They say you have your whole life to write your first record and then six months to write your second.” He goes on to explain that since he and long time music-making partner, Dave Mies, began collaborating together at age fourteen, their music has evolved.

Part of the progression from their critically acclaimed 2006 debut to the impressive Too Old to Die Young can be attributed to the fact that many of the songs on the second album were performed live numerous times before recording. Aaron says, “Audience feedback was an enjoyable way to allow the songs to take shape.” He also appreciatively admits that the success of the album is largely due to the induction of full-time third band member Ryan Sawyer. “He’s invigorated the band and given us a new lease on life. This record is stronger in songwriting and stronger in personnel” he enthuses.

With the inclusion of other favourites such as Matt Heiner (No Neck Blues Band) from their label, Ecstatic Peace (Thurston Moore’s imprint) the group have forged a swooning, but sturdy record that will stand out for both its glacial, melancholic lyricism as well as its vast sonic pallet, introduced wonderfully in the first bars of album opener So Messed Up.

When asked to sum up his sound in five words Aaron laughs, “Geez, I don’t know,” he says, “how about something like ‘miniature and epic…(laughs again) uh, um, let’s just cut it down to two and keep it at that.”

The speculation for this release online resonates with the imagery of locking oneself away indoors and indulging in the epic grandeur of this long player. However, it also seems poised to excite fans and newcomers alike when performed live from their native Brooklyn where Tall Firs are a staple of the unrelenting, furtive music scene as well as further afield. If the excitement of their slot at last year’s All Tomorrows Parties is anything to go by, gig-goers should definitely check out the live prospects of this wonderful album.

Too Old to Die Young is out now on Ecstatic Peace.

Neale Long