Review Summary: A clustered and colorful explosion.
Before There Will Be Fireworks became almost universally praised for their take on the indie post-rock genre with their magnum opus "The Dark, Dark Bright", the young Scottish band was not nearly as large in scope. They played small shows across Scotland winning some applauses and gaining little recognition. These were college kids looking to play music their music their way, regardless of the rewards and benefits fame may reap. The band's debut album is not nearly as small as one may believe from the band's rather ambiguous and humble nature, in fact it's completely massive.
The moments where There Will Be Fireworks lose themselves to the music; where they give way to the explosions of drums, soaring guitars, and thunderous melodies, are some of the best moments the band has ever produced. From the climatic burst of "Columbian Fireworks" to the absolutely beautiful piano driven crescendo of "Off with Their Heads", the band showcases not only what they are capable instrumentally, but what they are capable emotionally. These moments especially showcase what would come on their future work, as the stream of conscious delivery of "Foreign Thoughts" is shown to be a weaker prototype of "Here is Where" and the concluding serenade of "Joined up Writing" serves as a fitting counterpart to the bombastic finale of "Elder and Oak".
While it's clear that vocalist Nicky McManus has mechanically become much stronger over time, there is a certain charm to his vocals here. They strain and croon from time to time, but they never fail to deliver an emotionally poignant performance. While the falsetto on "A Kind of Furnace" serves as a great set up for the American Football sounding conclusion, filled with joyous horns and a quite delicate guitar that serves as a strong album highlight; it's the infectious "We Sleep Through The Bombs" that truly illustrates the charm of McManus's vocals. Amidst the dancing guitar and anthemic percussion McManus harmoniously sings above them in a way that will leave you grinning. However it's when he tries to overdue his voice that it can become grating, especially seen on "We Were a Roman Candle", where his shrill squeaks don't coincide too well to the overall muddy production of the guitars. Perhaps the biggest tragedy of the album is "Say Aye", a song so poorly produced that it sounds completely out of place with the production of the entire album, which is quite sad since the instrumentation had what it took to become something beautiful and grand.
There Will Be Fireworks self-titled debut is among one of the most underrated albums in recent memory. While the production is below par throughout most of its humble offering and some songs especially lose focus in the closing 3/4's of the album, there is an undeniable charm that the rest of the album has. It's filled with the moments that many who enjoyed "The Dark Dark Bright" will enjoy, and is well worth a listen.