Fireworks is a group that is often packed in with the slew of modern day pop punk bands that have been getting bigger in the scene these days by ripping off New Found Glory, Lifetime and The Movielife. As I've mentioned sometime ago earlier in this blog, pop punk can be a difficult genre to define and I often use the "90's Lookout Records" as my definition (another would be "Ramones-core" but that's kind of dumb).
Anyway, this new style of pop punk has become increasingly more popular, with acts such as The Wonder Years, Four Years Strong and Set Your Goals paving the way. I don't necessarily hate this style of pop punk, but I can only take so many "pop punk with breakdowns" when New Found Glory has already done it so much better than the rest. From what I know, these guys all work hard and it's great that they're getting some attention but it's just not really my thing.
And yet, for some reason I was still compelled to check out the new album by Fireworks despite my indifference toward the scene that they're so often associated with. I'm not sure what drew me to it- but something did and I'm kind of glad I gave it a try.
The disc (*ahem*) starts off with the lead single(?) "Arrows" which sets the tone for the album. Bear in mind that this is my first Fireworks album, so maybe their debut sounded much like this, but I was kind of surprised. The music is more laid back in comparison to their contemporaries, although lead singer Dave Mackinder's soft and welcoming vocals help give that "laid back" feeling. The band still has their energy-filled moments, but they don't rely on the same "pop punk for hardcore kids" gimmicks (palm muted breakdowns, throaty vocalist screams, etc) that so many bands do these days and it's very refreshing.
I'm under the impression that a lot of bands in this new pop punk scene predominately sing about staying positive and having a good time with friends. In this aspect, Fireworks doesn't break any new ground lyrically as a lot of songs on Gospel cover these themes, but I'm very drawn to the way they make their words fit in so well with the music. Fireworks don't go for opened-ended metaphors like some artists may, but that doesn't mean they don't use some damned good imagery. The chorus of "We're Still Pioneers" in particular, when Mackinder declares "I don't want to let go of this minor key- makes sense to me/I don't want to let go, knowing what I know." speaks volumes to anyone who listens music mostly written in a minor key.
While the first couple of tracks are good, I don't think the album really takes off until track 5, "Teeth" in which the band combines a song about a standard tooth removal process with a song about a girl. From there the album only explodes (sorry, I had to) with young summer anthems and gang vocals galore. Once again, the band isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before but they do it in a way that makes it really fun to listen to anyway.
If the Wonder Years are the next New Found Glory and Set Your Goals are the new Movielife, then I don't think it would be a stretch to say that Fireworks are this decade's Saves the Day. And why not? The album is chock-full of powerful hooks and visual lyrics, much like Saves the Day albums tend to play out. The music is mellow, but still has a certain punch to it and the vocals are very nasally, both of these things are very reminiscent of Saves the Day, specifically 2003's In Reverie. In fact, if you were to imagine that the songs from In Reverie had more of a teen angst feel to it, you might have a fairly good idea of what this album sounds like. I mean that in the best way possible. This is a fun summer album and if the band continues to head in this direction with their music then they've got themselves a new fan.