Spires (USA)
Flowers And Fireworks


4.0
excellent

Review

by Adam Downer STAFF
May 6th, 2009 | 43 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The house is getting angry as the days get hotter and the war gets closer

It would be easy for me to sit here and open this review by telling you about how Spires aren’t all that fresh; that every moment of their debut LP Flowers and Fireworks is tainted with the type of familiarity that post rock reviewers (yours truly included) love to bitch about and elitists (again, yours truly included) love to cite as a reason to write off an up and coming band. I wouldn’t be wrong per se. In fact, by most measures, I’d probably be right. For anyone familiar with the type of grandiose hardcore championed by acts such Sed Non Satiata and Daitro over the last few years, I need simply state that this is a skramz record and that should paint a fairly clear picture of Spires’ sound. Similar to the mesmerizing intensity of sputnik favorites Mesa Verde, Spires work with a meandering and swirling timbre. While slow-brewed hardcore is the norm here, subdued post rockisms worm their way in, as repeated guitar melodies swirl in a hypnotic drone ever so quietly towards an inevitable climax of crash cymbals and power chords. Throw in some indecipherable yet passionate screams and you have Flowers and Fireworks in a nutshell. As a music critic worth his weight in prickism, I should be knocking this record for its similarity and the eerie feeling of déja vu it instills in its listener, but in all honesty, I really can’t do that. I like this record too damn much.

Without doubt, Flowers and Fireworks is the type of emo record that can appeal to fans of any of the genre’s infamous niches. Sure, at an expansive nine tracks with an average length of five minutes, diversity is a necessity, but Spires excel at both the hazy deliberate pace of post metal (hence John Hanson’s “Skramz Isis”) and intense, Gospel-esque technical chaos. Opener “Shores” starts the record off firmly in the former, and it isn’t until “Flames for the Strays” that Spires really let loose and start truly embracing the latter. The first three songs off the record offer climaxes and “heavy” parts here and there, but Flowers and Fireworks initially refuses to fully align itself with more severe tendencies. This gives the record a somewhat methodical pace; by keeping the tempo down early on (without sacrificing intensity; these guys know what they’re doing), Spires sound absolutely foreboding. They show glimpses of what’s to come, particularly in the shit hot opening to standout “Whoring the Fields,” but even then, it isn’t long before Spires pull back to a quieter tenor. In these more melodic sections, Spires excel, as genuinely interesting interludes punctuated by some well-produced distorted bass give the music a dynamic center.

Still, as proven by “Flames for the Strays” and the subsequent, near-anthemic “Scraped from the Bones,” Spires are at their best when they’re at they embrace their natural affinity to straight up emotional fury. “Scraped from the Bones” ups the ante for Flowers and Fireworks. It has all the makings of a heavy track, opening with ferocity fresh off the stellar “Flames for the Strays,” but soon Spires twist the song into a speedy post rock jam, hitting an emotional high in the climactic middle section. This all only gets better as soon everything devolves into a kind of a drum/scream chant which will inevitably draw comparisons to Circle Takes the Square’s “In the Nervous Light of Sunday.” The drums connect to the album’s second half starter, “Mermaid Harpoon/Warmest Regards,” and Flowers and Fireworks doesn’t let up from here on out. Both “Mermaid Harpoon” and “The Bitters” are overall solid offerings, standing solidly against the album's well executed first half in terms of heaviness and vibe, but it is the penultimate “Man or Mother” that delivers in the fullest. With the album’s truest breakdown, “Man or Mother” provides what Flowers and Fireworks needed at least one or two more times in the preceding seven tracks: a defining moment. For a band whose only crime is familiarity, Spires could have afforded to throw in more flash, and "Man or Mother" delivers said flash beyond what could have been expected.

The only comparable moment to precede “Man or Mother's’” distinctive quality is the lo-fi second half of “Mermaid Harpoon/Warmest Regards.” Perceptibly the “Warmest Regards” referred to in the title, this section proves the record’s most sincere changeup that actually works. It’s the records purest breath of fresh air amidst what is mostly doom and gloom with breakdowns, and is a harbinger for what’s to come on the unavoidably epic “Eves.” No spoilers on this killer finale, but for those who like their skramz with chants, Spires know how to deliver. If Spires were to offer a summary of what they aspire to be, then “Eves” is perfect. It’s exciting, methodical, and mesmerizing all at once, and leaves a very distinctive impression. Unfortunately, not all of Flowers and Fireworks is up to that task, as a general homogeneity hangs over the record, but if that is the record’s most egregious flaw, then Flowers and Fireworks must be heralded as a success, for it takes a band in a stagnant genre offering something mostly unoriginal, and yet on almost every level, it works. Here’s to hoping Spires stick around, because if there’s one thing emo doesn’t need, it’s another promising act calling it quits after their first record.



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user ratings (46)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Youwithoutme
May 6th 2009


301 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is so good.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2009


17224 Comments


crazy good.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 6th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

awesome review, awesome album.

this will probably have lasting power for me - it didn't really sink in at first, but im really loving it now. definitely a grower... has only built steam for me.

joshuatree
Emeritus
May 6th 2009


3742 Comments


album was pretty meh for me

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 6th 2009


15743 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

oh btw http://www.myspace.com/spiresatwar

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

hismajestythepope
May 6th 2009


30 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

been listening to this a lot lately, pretty ballin

Skyler
May 7th 2009


1084 Comments


will check this out

YouAreMySilence
May 7th 2009


3727 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If this is anything like Mesa Verde I must check it out.

Meatplow
May 7th 2009


5524 Comments


mmm never been a big fan of this type of music though I must say mese verde grew on me a lot

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
May 7th 2009


862 Comments


really great review but i didn't think too much of the album. 2.5-3

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2009


7026 Comments


I'll be checking it out even though I'm skeptical on whether it's good or not

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 7th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

doesn't seem like the kind of album you'd like

distrobistro
May 7th 2009


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is so fucking good. wow.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2009


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

yeah this album isnt that good

Serpento
May 7th 2009


2351 Comments


by the way pg.99

NortherlyNanook
May 7th 2009


1285 Comments


it's great, but i usually dig post-rock-ish emo type stuff

thatguy
May 7th 2009


8 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They're definitely not going to break up before another release. They did kick out their standing vocalist, but they sound even better now with the two of the other guys doing dual vocals. In fact, they just recorded a bunch of new songs as a 4 piece for a 12" split with 1994! and they've got 2 tours in the works... one west coast and one east coast. Go check out the new stuff on their myspcae.

kitsch
May 7th 2009


5107 Comments


im going to get this even though i only like a few postrockish skramz bands. i kinda thought mesa verde were overhyped even though they were pretty badass

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 8th 2009


4950 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

just bought the vinyl. it's sold out on one of the sites selling it.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
May 8th 2009


7026 Comments


album rules



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