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In a relatively short time, Detroit’s Fireworks have risen from modest beginnings to become one of the most acclaimed bands producing pop punk. The five-piece’s debut full-length “All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion” cemented their position as a mainstay of American pop punk, shown by their appearance on bills alongside names like Saves The Day, New Found Glory and Four Year Strong the world over. Wetting appetites with the “Bonfires” EP last year, they’ve returned with their hugely awaited sophomore effort “Gospel” which serves up their best material yet.
One of Fireworks’ major calling cards is their ability to take a more intelligent approach to the standard pop punk themes of relationships, depression or bro-downs. “Gospel” doesn’t disappoint on lyrical content, particularly on “X’s On Trees” when frontman Dave Mackinder quips “we could spend more scholarship money, to live like modern day draft dodgers”. Similarly to New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik, I think Mackinder’s nasal singing style will break or break this band for most people. On the other hand, the guy can hold a tune better than most and this is an absolutely essential part of their particular vibe.
“Arrows” opens the record on a high note, boasting high energy guitars and a really catchy chorus. It’s clear from the outset that Mackinder’s vocals are more soulful than ever, exuding an almost RnB-like quality on this track. “I Was Born In The Dark”, “X’s On Trees” and “We’re Still Pioneers” are a series of harder hitting songs, putting forward some of their faster material. “Teeth” slows down the tempo of the record, before picking back up again with the sing-along powerpop number “Oh, Why Can’t We Start Old and Get Younger”. The eighth song “Life Is Killing Me” is one of the best tracks on “Gospel”. Its driving riffs and catchy vocal hooks are guaranteed to remind you why you love pop punk. Mixing it up a bit, “I Am the Challenger” is a low-key acoustic song that shows Fireworks are not simply restricted to upbeat, electric punk. It heavily incorporates elements of folk (there’s a definite Bon Iver feel to it) which shows the dynamic nature of this band. The final two songs “Locked In My Time Capsule” and “The Wild Bunch” see Fireworks wrap the album up solidly, the latter offering a great spin on the pop punk friendship anthem and boasting one of the best choruses of the album, “we all grew up weird enough to laugh at how we used to be”.
“Gospel” marks another forward step for one of America’s most important pop punk acts. Fireworks’ style won’t appeal to all, but it’s likely that minds will probably have already been made about this band before coming at this record. For those out there that already love this band, “Gospel” well and truly lives up to its ambitious title.
2. I Was Born In the Dark
3. Xs On Trees
4. We’re Still Pioneers
6. Oh, Why Can’t We Start Old And Get Younger
8. Life Is Killing Me
9. I Am the Challenger
10. Paintings Of Paul Revere
11. I Locked My Time Capsule
12. The Wild Bunch