Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Fireworks “Switch Me On” (Shelflife)

“And when we started / the fireworks filled up the sky” Aberdeen, “Fireworks”

Pure, pouting, pounding, perfect punk pop.

The first Fireworks long-player is a succulent, super-succinct synthesis of tumbling ‘60s reverb, addictive new wave late ‘70s riffs, feedback-flecked ‘80s indie and back-to-basics ‘90s Britpop that along the way rattles ghosts of the Ramones, Rosehips, Razorcuts, Mary Chain, Buzzcocks, Primitives, Darling Buds, the Elastica of “Stutter”, a few of the early Slumberland roster and even past Shelflife stars like the Frenchmen and Free Loan Investments. In short, if you liked the Fireworks’ two 7” EPs or their excellent (and exclusive) tracks on “Nobody’s Business”, “Raving Pop Blast!” and a postcard-shaped FreakScene flexidisc, you will adore this album.

You’ll already have deduced that there’s nothing especially complicated, either lyrically or musically, about what the Fireworks do, which is why it’s perplexing that there aren’t more bands doing it this well: turbo-charged tracks like “On And On” (the first great single of 2015), “Runaround” or “Corner Of My Mind” are object lessons in lustfully lovely, lively POP, whilst the closing “In The Morning” continues their tradition of finishing every record with a slowie, presumably to give Shaun a bit of a breather. 

And the band clearly aren’t running out of inspiration. Although “Switch Me On” starts with 2/3rds of their “Runaround” EP, it rolls out a first XI of golden newies from thereon in: they don’t feel the need to reprise any of the four tunes from their (ace) eponymous debut, and even subtly introduce some… um, texture. Perhaps the pearls, tucked midway through side two, are the deft and adept “Back To You”, a glorious indie-pop confection the verses of which are like mainlining sherbet; and the glistening “Stay Here”, which trespasses on the territory of bands like Spraydog or current labelmates the Hobbes Fanclub. Mind you, we’ve plenty of time for the minor chords and chiming 12-string guitar of “Let You Know”, as it channels Webster and Vass near thirty years on. And the (comparatively) indulgent play-out of “Final Say” reminds us, happily, of the end of the Groove Farm’s “It Might Not Mean That Much To You… But It Means A Lot To Me”.

We hadn’t been at all sure that the Fireworks would be able to keep up their early momentum over a full LP, especially when it arrived so long after the first two singles, but our doubts have been comprehensively vanquished. This is the *bomb*.

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