No one in the sky: The ideology of Fireworks

fireworks
Fireworks may just be the most underrated band in the scene. Not a whole lot is said about them, but they tour relentlessly. Two years ago, fresh off the heels of their amazing album Gospel (the only album able to go toe to toe with The Wonder Years Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing), I saw them play the smallest stage on Warped Tour.

They’re a relentless band that is at a constant battle within: Don’t rely on religion to be the best you can be; you’re capable of being great.

Fireworks are one of the most positive bands writing today and one of the forefathers of the new generation of pop punk; matured lyrics, incredibly catchy melodies and loud guitars. They’re not afraid of quieter music as well, playing as much of the New Found Glory-esque spastic punk as they do the quiet shade of Saves the Day. It’s a beautiful sound that can either rip through your speakers or act as the soundtrack of the evening darkness.

One of their most powerful assets though, is their presentation. Lyrically, they’re nostalgic, mystical and relentlessly optimistic. The self-awareness of their records is something that most of their peers lack, and draws up battle lines within their records.

As much of a force for positive thinking as they can be, there is an adamant war cry against fundamental religion in their music. Anti-religious music isn’t anything new by any means; AFI is known for it. The difference with Fireworks is that they aren’t writing angrily. They’re fighting to show that you don’t need to rely on religion to be guided into being a good person.

“I Locked My Time Capsule” has one of the most memorable choruses that illustrates what the band tries to preach: “Just do what you can to do what you love / And be mindful when someone out there gives a shit / I don’t know where I’m going, but it’s where I want to be”.

The optimism of making yourself happy is often at the forefront of their lyrics, but what’s interesting is that it’s constantly emphasized that you’re capable of it. There are hidden sniper shots at religion throughout their records, attempting to tear away reliance on a higher being to do the work for you. In the same song, singer David Mackinder shouts, “My nativity scene would be the people shaking this floor”.

It’s a unique route to relate the positive messages found in pop punk these days. While the overall tone is usually for good, if not looking back on memories, good and bad, the mention of religion is usually a short jab. The song “I Support Same Sex Marriage” is perhaps one of the most damning, the title intended to cause the first strike.

Lines like “When you spend all your time with your eyes to the sky, you end up looking down your nose just to look me in the eye”, and “When you open that book you close your mind, so trust yourself and no one else” are incredibly self-aware for being on a band’s debut LP. But even this early on in their career, their message is clear.

Despite the intended venom towards this type of ideology, the band maintains the positive thinking needed to live successfully, rather than rely on religion. Oh, Common Life is a brutal look at finding yourself as an adult and the harsh world you were never quite ready for; finding yourself on the other side of a parents’ death and lost loves married to someone else.

Amongst the depressing imagery though, there are lines like, “I’m the greatest book read to the end / In those last lines you’ll find my friends like flies on tape, I keep them close / We may look dead but move our soul” from “Run, Brother, Run”.

Fireworks helped forge the new wave of pop punk with the brutal honesty that comes with picking fights with ideology. It’s an edge that stands apart from bands that just write angry punk songs against religion, in that it’s meant to unapologetically encourage anyone listening. It’s a powerful idea that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Regardless of your beliefs, Fireworks message is something that is needed more in the scene.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Advertisements

Review: Fireworks – Oh, Common Life

fireworks

Oh, Common Life caught me off guard almost immediately, all at once being nothing quite like I expected, but everything I had hoped it would be.

Fireworks have never quite made the headlines that they deserve, but have proven themselves as brazen artists attempting to push the boundaries of pop punk and unwilling to let their peers pass them an inch. Depending on what you’re looking for, Oh, Common Life will either be somewhat disappointing or album of the year.

First and foremost, if you liked the sound of Gospel, Oh, Common Life expands on it significantly, adding in a heavy flourish of Saves the Day circa In Reverie grunge pop and elements of Hellogoodbye’s indie synth. While the album is laced with the faster pop punk songs that the band is generally known for, Oh Common Life is much more paced. It definitely takes a step back to leave much more room for the addition of a haunting keyboard that bleeds through the melodies.

This is Fireworks much more mature than they’ve ever been, creating a more standardized rock album that has the bounce of jazz. The rhythm guitar fuzzes mechanically, creating a harsh layer that allows the bass and lead guitar to dance over it without being squashed. Bassist Kyle O’Neil consistently becomes one of the highlights of the songs, as his riffs find their way intertwined beautifully with the lead guitars.

The best way that I can describe the album is that the faster songs are wicked powerful while many of the slower paced songs remind me of “Teeth” from Gospel; slow, poppy and highly melodic. However, each song maintains an incredible hook and relentless drive.

Vocalist David Mackinder is perhaps at his strongest yet, finding the perfect melody to match the music. Although he doesn’t strain himself too harshly, he matches, if not tops his performance from Gospel. It also shows him at his most mature, forgoing the easy and generic topics like lost girlfriends and focuses on the process of growing up.

The use of callbacks late in the album is sparse, but it help the lyrics feel like a complete story and a full unit. Most notable is the theme of his father. It’s a surprising and subtle theme, but best illustrates the concept of growing up.

In “Play God Only Knows At My Funeral”, Mackinder sings “I’m half the man my father knows I should be”. A bit later in “Run, Brother, Run”, he sings, “I was twenty-five when my dad died, my arms felt weak and my heart grew tired”, before a  gorgeous part of the chorus, “I’m getting used to my skin but it doesn’t feel right, I’ve shared my name with a stranger all my life / And I feel it all”.

Oh, Common Life shows Fireworks at their best, subdued and quieter than we’re used to, baring their fangs sparingly for maximum effect. It’s sure to be their In Reverie, in that most hardcore fans are sure to love it, but it may not be the favorite of the average listener.

What it represents is the pinnacle of a band that grew from a New Found Glory sound-a-like to one of the bands at the forefront of the present pop punk movement. Oh, Common Life is brooding, uplifting, morose and surprisingly optimistic. At the end of the day, it’s an early contender as one of the year’s best albums.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Fireworks stream new song “Glowing Crosses”

fireworks

Detroit pop punk band Fireworks have released the first single from their upcoming album, Oh, Common Life. Take a listen to “Glowing Crosses” below:

Oh, Common Life is set to release on March 25 via Triple Crown Records. The new album is the band’s third full-length release and the follow-up to 2011’s acclaimed Gospel.

You can read more about the new song over at Pitchfork.

Excited for the new album? Share your thoughts on “Glowing Crosses” in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck