Review Summary: A perfect slice of a pop-punk summer.
Back in 2006 a little pop-punk from Detroit released a six song EP that pretty much was, for all intents and purposes, the best slice of the genre ever served in a long, long time. I mean, the best
. The We Are Everywhere EP
distilled everything that was awesome about pop punk and turned it into a syrupy love became the equivalent of my crack cocaine. Turns out, I wasn’t the only one. While the kids over at AbsolutePunk were wetting themselves in anticipation of a new album (I was one of them), in the wings, Paramore’s Hayley Williams has had nothing but praise for the band, which probably also had something to do with the fact that man-friend Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory has been at the helm of the producing decks. Expectations abound with the release of Confusion
, Fireworks perhaps don’t quite reach the lofty heights of their EP, but compared to the genre’s miserable offering in 2008, Fireworks are, in a certain sense, a breath of fresh, life-affirming air. Granted, the band are far from pushing the boundaries of the genre and sit firmly, Buddha style, smack bang in the middle of a circle a bands occupied by All Time Low, Hit The Lights and Four Year Strong, but damn
are they good at what they do.
And like all pop-punk, there’s little question of where the focus lies here: Hooks! Hooks! Hooks! In fact, Confusion
is nothing if not a revolving door of furiously fun riffs, catchy guitar lines and chanted gang vocals. Yet not all is as it seems - what really separates Fireworks from becoming a run of the mill band is their sheer playfulness when it comes to songwriting – the band’s twin guitarists twist and turn around each other in teasing abandon, lines peeking themselves over the music only to submerge again under a white wash of songs that evolve quickly in their usual 2-3 minute performance space. While not all hooks sink deep, those that do, such as the bouncing rock of “2923 Monroe St” and the humongous chorus of “Detroit” are rollicking examples of why Confusion
, at its best, can make you just throw your arms up and smile at life. Even where it allows itself respite, such as the twinkling, semi-emotional back end of “Geography, Vonnegut and Me”, it’s a moment that’s still steeped in the band’s positive energy, a hopeful nostalgia that the band adheres to so brilliantly.
Put it this way – there are probably few bands out there that could take lyrics like “I still take bad advice from my best friends/ I’ll ride on this sinking ship/I’ll go to the bottom with them… I’ll go to the bottom with you”
and set it to the tune of jumpy, rollicking melodies and “woooaaahss” and “bap bap baps” to make it sound as though they’d come right out of a three hour punk rock set of explosive, basement show excitement. But Fireworks can. There’s a certain nostalgia here, sure, but it doesn’t saturate the album in a negative way, but instead is sprinkled on like a fine peppering of glitter. While it’d be nice if Fireworks allowed themselves a bigger bag of tricks than those on display here, if you’re willing to invest in this, I mean, really
invest in it, Confusion
may just be that summer album you’ll look back on and say ‘hey, now that… that was a good time’ with a tinge of heartfelt warmth and memory. It’s the sound of a band who’ve known from day one exactly what they’ve wanted to do, even through to the release of the aptly titled Adventure, Nostalgia, and Robbery
EP last year.
So no, while Confusion
is far from the second coming of the genre, and while it’s sometimes easy to get lost among the rolling lines of fun, it’s best just to let go and just let it happen. If this is all they’ve got to offer, I’ll take it with no reservations.