Review Summary: For there will be fireworks, and they will light up your eyes, and you will feel more alive than ever before, just as your sister would wish for you.
... as the beginning monologue tells us, in light of death. That is essentially what this album is about
: beauty through the sorrow, light through the dark, fireworks through the blackest night. There Will Be Fireworks is a four-piece group from Glasgow, Scotland, whose sound incorporates multiple influences, most notably that of the critically acclaimed indie emo rock group American Football. They also incorporate dynamic structures of post-rock, bringing to mind the likes of Mono or Flying Saucer Attack, while incorporating a pop/rock accessibility found in bands such as Transit. They are not signed to any record label, and their self-titled debut record is a good one for being independent and a first.
Much like American Football, TWBF utilizes very simple melodies, laid-back vocals, and gorgeous textures and layers within their soundscape. Introduction "Columbian Fireworks" as well as "So The Story Goes" and "Midfield Maestro" exhibit this perfectly, lighting up a dark sky with chilling melodies and liquid dynamic. We're also introduced to the singer's voice, which has a delicious Scottish accent (his voice is not unlike Frightened Rabbit's Scott Hutchinson), adding to the uniqueness and richness of the band's abilities, but more on him later. A highlight also is the song "A Kind Of Furnace", which utilizes an original 6/8 timing signature and has a very American Football sound to it, showcasing a smooth trumpet that duets with plucking high-register guitar. It is a joy to listen to, and the concept of light cutting through the darkness is prevalent here, concluding in a sanguine march-like buildup to "We Sleep Through The Bombs", which proves to be the best vocally driven song here, as one can sense the angst in his words.
The album is split in songs driven instrumentally and those driven by voice. The former may still involve voice, but it's more of a background instrument instead of the focal point, while the latter focuses on voice and amplification of it. Songs like the aforementioned "We Sleep Through The Bombs" and "Says Aye" are the most effective in the vocally driven songs, but as a whole, this half does not live up to the standards set by songs such as "A Kind Of Furnace" or "So The Story Goes," and this is due to the often oppressive nature of the singer's voice, particularly in the tracks "Off With Their Heads" and "We Were A Roman Candle." The voice grows and grows dynamically but due to the thick accent and deeper, scratchier tone of the guy's voice contrasted with the incredibly delicate structure of the instruments, it comes across the ears like a wrecking ball, destroying the song instead of adding to it. Also, the wall of electric guitars and the screaming in "We Were A Roman Candle" is very unnecessary and I feel it does not add to the dynamic: it just sounds obnoxious.
Thankfully, however, these two songs are the only tunes with blatantly negative components. However, there are a few things here and there that aren't too big of an issue, but still need to be addressed. Because this is an independent release, the production quality is rougher, arrhythmic, and grittier, which may take away from the experience, particularly due to the post-rock nature of the songs. The often inconsistent and offbeat bass drum pattern in "Says Aye" is rather distracting, as is the electronics blurp in the intro to "Headlights."
Lyrically, There Will Be Fireworks focuses on the "light in the darkness" concept as mentioned above, in an everyday context, as well as just painting poetic imagery. "Guising" paints a beautiful picture of fall and Halloween: "A pair of ghosts from door to door, all the trees were bare, the leaves had left a floor for us." The songs "Headlights" and "We Were A Roman Candle" serve lyrically as two parts of the same story, as the former paints a darker story of sadness and anger on the road ("We got cold. Spent the night driving home. We swallowed road under bonnet. It all speeds by and as the road unfolds, unfurling homes in the headlights. The space between your ears fills up with verse and tears.") while the latter acknowledges the darker ("I should have been more cautious; I should have been less kind.") yet still points towards hope ("We were a roman candle, we burned throughout the night."), again pointing towards the light.
Overall, There Will Be Fireworks has crafted a dynamic indie rock/post-rock record. Their knowledge of gentle song structures and songwriting skills are definitely there, and they have the ability to create a legendary record, even if it is not this one. But we have a great record, full of beauty, subtlety, and thought. If you enjoyed American Football or accessible post-rock, I would recommend checking out this little gem.