Fireworks
Higher Lonely Power


4.7
superb

Review

by Atari STAFF
January 12th, 2023 | 60 replies


Release Date: 01/01/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A startling rebirth

After waiting so long for this moment I don’t even know where to begin, but Fireworks aren’t making it any easier. The band’s first album in nine years, Higher Lower Power, is a risky, expansive evolution of their sound that’s only been toyed with previously. The concept was initially set into motion in 2019, when Fireworks released the minimalistic “Demitasse”: a hushed seven-minute pop song filled with dazzling experimentation and vulnerable vocals. Officially breaking their 5-year hiatus, the song streamed on the band’s new website accompanied by several mysterious survey questions centered around the concept of a higher power. The idea and track were intriguing enough to build moderate anticipation at the very least. Several unfortunate delays later, the sudden release of “Higher Lonely Power” finally arrives when we least expect it: either hung over from the holidays or focused on the yearly short-lived “resolution.” Plans be damned.

I’ve essentially locked myself in a room to jam Higher Lonely Power on repeat the last several days and I still have no idea what I’m listening to, which is perhaps the best compliment I can give to Firework’s long-awaited comeback album. A song with a head-scratcher of a title like “Jerking Off the Sky” begins to (sort of) make sense once the shimmering, experimental layers bury the band’s previous identity – only traces of it now scratching at the surface. While Gospel and Oh, Common Life had some detours away from pop-punk, they still corrected course back to the upbeat backbone that Fireworks were known for. Things change, especially in nearly a decade’s time. Higher Lonely Power is an ambitious lunge into uncharted territory with no looking back. The results are strange, beautiful, and a bit dizzying; this is an album unlike anything they’ve ever done.

The band's fourth LP demands attention almost instantly, as pummeling guitars and strung-out vocals converge for a rare, chaotic energy on “God Approved Insurance Plan”. For a band often known for their charm over their intensity, it’s quite the unexpected, potent dose of hardcore aggression. Then the album swiftly shifts gears into a path of softer soundscapes that are as unfamiliar as they are creative. Warm, mildly glitchy synths and glowing string sections swell throughout the highly atmospheric journey that ensues. It’s a startling rebirth that keeps one of the most important strengths of Fireworks’ previous material intact: their knack for storytelling that’s as purely genius as it is amusing.

Higher Lonely Power is filled with scathing humor, each band member collectively roasted with brilliant PUP-esque lines: “we slept in the same bed but different houses, hating ourselves since the early 2000s.” Longtime vocalist Dave Mackinder still has that witty delivery and certain charisma that keeps him out of the just-another-nasally-vocalist category, but we also get the opportunity to hear him in new and exciting ways. Shrouded in a hazier aesthetic on “I Want to Start a Religion” but biting and sarcastic on “Blood in the Milk”, his performance is bright and versatile without taking away from the band’s most adventurous musicianship yet. He also convincingly changes his tone to tackle dark subjects like the flaws of American Christianity and greed in a way that’s deliberate but far from typical. Most of the lyrics on Higher Lonely Power require more deciphering. Even at their most political, these are nuanced tracks designed to get you thinking; nothing seems to be in black and white.

Once the punchy prophets of dorm-room antics (much like the early The Wonder Years), Higher Lonely Power is the ultimate progression for the Detroit pop-punk band. It constantly challenges the listener with new ideas – shapeshifting with a seemingly limitless selection of influences – and ever so subtly makes the band’s most powerful statements yet. Apart from a few exceptions like the condensed, manic guitars of “Funeral Plant” or the cute choral arrangements of “Goodnight Tomb”, much of Higher Lonely Power relies on a dynamic, slow-burning approach. I don’t know if it will ever connect with me on the personal level that Gospel has. I don’t know what my favorite track is. Even as a longtime fan of Fireworks, much of what I’m hearing remains mysterious even after excessive jamming sessions. What I do know without a doubt: as much as I love their other albums, I’ve never been quite this intrigued.



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user ratings (130)
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
BlazinBlitzer (3)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2023


27973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

Fireworks lyrics appreciation thread commencing in 3, 2, 1...

Sowing
Moderator
January 12th 2023


43955 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hurts to know we’re on our own

Sad to know we’re in control




In other news, very nice to see this review back.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2023


60514 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

had tracks from this pop up on my shuffle and i think they've grown a smidge hm

Feather
January 12th 2023


10165 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was really the only review/thread I that I instantly noticed was missing. Glad to have it back!

Atari
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2023


27973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.7

@Johnny: yay!! any tracks in particular?



cheers Sowing and Feather. I could have slacked off on posting it again for much longer due to pure laziness so had to push myself, lol. the original thread was so pure :/ let's see if we can recreate those vibes

pizzamachine
January 12th 2023


27238 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

A startling lack of comments

SatcomAngel
January 13th 2023


37 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm feeling a 4. So much room to grow. I love a lot of this album.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 13th 2023


2406 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The back half of this album is just so good

BigTuna
January 13th 2023


5907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is very good. I find a new favorite track each listen.

Sinternet
Contributing Reviewer
January 13th 2023


26593 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

second half of the album doing some seriously heavy lifting here quality-wise, kinda shocking how bad the first half is

Gyromania
January 13th 2023


37116 Comments


yeah wtf why is this so backloaded?

sadguyontheinternet
January 13th 2023


116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this album is actually QUITE damn good. Gonna have to check out their other albums.

BigTuna
January 13th 2023


5907 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I adore the opening five tracks.

Nbehre11
January 14th 2023


292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Was wondering where this review went. Glad to have it back as it’s a great read, and a fantastic album!

twlight
January 14th 2023


8853 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

album is mid

Hendoi
January 15th 2023


740 Comments


boomer reviewer name dropping influences like PUP and Wonder Years like those bands are even relevant anymore like It's 2023 now homeslice.

twlight
January 15th 2023


8853 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

listening again now

twlight
January 15th 2023


8853 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

the vox are what's killing it for me, i like the music but dont like his voice





Snake.
January 15th 2023


25268 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

why do pop punk bands suddenly think that if they adopt a dave matthews-like twang, drop the guitars an octave lower and replicate an arcade fire-esque atmosphere it gives them the right to believe they're just gonna magically shit out the next devil and god ??

twlight
January 15th 2023


8853 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yeah it's lame



this aint it



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