Review Summary: More to offer than their own confusion? Just barely.
As closely and as innocently as Gospel
tends to resemble Michiganian pop-punk ensemble Fireworks’ debut LP, All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion
, the deciding factor of the release is yet to come-- the reception. Why? All I Have To Offer
was an intensely likable affair, seemingly loved by all factions of the pop-punk world (a da
mn divisive one, at that). With jubilant melodies out the wazoo and obvious songwriting skill to carry them, Fireworks exploded onto the scene with just enough edge to keep the quintet off of Guilty Pleasure Island yet enough catchiness and playability to keep little sisters everywhere entertained. Gospel
is a well-executed replica of the album that garnered them a fair amount of fame in the first place, and it will be interesting to observe whether the energetic anthems about girls, nonchalance, and lots of nostalgia have worn out their welcome.
Then again, who can ever really have enough songs about girls, nonchalance, and nostalgia? It would be ridiculous to assert that Fireworks, of all bands, sing the songs that finally send this ship plummeting underwater. Gospel
has a lovable punchiness to it. Sudden start-stops and unexpected gang vocals are all over the record, adding a depth to the album that keeps it from becoming too one-dimensional. The group sidesteps another pitfall by spreading out the highlights (which don’t wear too thin, mind you). “Arrows,” “We’re Still Pioneers,” and “Paintings of Paul Revere” serve as obvious centerpieces on the always-ebullient record, and they’re placed at the beginning, middle, and end, respectively. Furthermore, besides the slow-tempo, predictable inclusion of “I Am The Challenger,” Gospel
doesn’t have any outstanding duds. Most of the lyric material is cheesy, but not to a glaring fault. Take closer “The Wild Bunch”-- a raucous song about being part of a “weird” group of friends that sounds like it belongs in a subpar Glee production. Eh, really
Fireworks? It’s not quite Justin Beiber material, but it’s enough to make one yearn for the more literate qualities of All I Have To Offer
Good enough to get by, sure. But now that we know Fireworks are capable of All I Have To Offer...
, it’s hard not to wonder if that’s really
all they have to offer, because Gospel
doesn’t prove any differently.
This tends to be the general theme of Gospel
. Enjoyable on its surface with unequivocally infectious melodies, it should provide initial enjoyment. Under the surface though, there’s little there besides the catchy potency -- more of the same, even if the same is nice and comfortable. Besides being just about the least badass thing you could treat your ears to besides Taylor Swift, there’s not much on Gospel that’s particularly defining, or interesting, for that matter. Still, Fireworks are good for yet another shallow, delightful listen, let’s just hope that this formula doesn’t wear out its welcome too soon, because then they may be in trouble. For now, might as well sing along to “We’re Still Pioneers,” and hope that Fireworks still have it in ‘em to craft the lovable pop-punk we know they’re capable of, and be pioneers, too.