Release Date: Mar 25, 2014
Record label: Triple Crown Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Emo-Pop, Punk-Pop
"Engaging, inventive albums like 'Oh, Common Life' are yet more proof that pop-punk’s renaissance won’t fade away any time soon." Fireworks have still got it. More pop than punk these days, the Detroit boys have carved out a niche all of their own with their vulnerable, offbeat approach to the genre. Vocalist Dave Pest’s syrupy voice and stark, at times uncomfortably autobiographical lyrics tug at the heartstrings (“I’m getting used to my skin but it doesn’t fit right” cuts deep, bro), while summer-ready jaunts like ‘Bed Sores’ swing and shine among the best of them.
In a literal sense, many indie bands evolved not from Velvet Underground or Sonic Youth, but Smash, Dookie, or Enema of the State—records that served as beginner's manuals and inspired musicians in great numbers to buy their first guitar. But it's apparent that when one engages with pop-punk, it’s less of a “phase” than a vaccination—a crucial inoculation that makes you immune to it for the rest of your life, presumably for society's benefit. So it’s not surprising that pop-punk isn’t afforded the same cachet amongst critics as similarly youth-oriented genres: after all, there’s nothing subversive or cool about your 13-year-old self, and there haven’t been many examples of its practitioners aging gracefully.
With their fourth full-length release, emo-pop band Fireworks have further refined their rich, powerfully emotional take on rock & roll with the album Oh, Common Life. While lead singer David Mackinder makes his struggles with the world around him vivid in the lyrics of songs like "The Only Thing That Haunts This House Is Me" and "Flies on Tape," his bandmates fill the melodies with clever and surprisingly intricate textures as guitarists Brett Jones and Chris Mojan, bassist Kyle O'Neil, and drummer Tymm Rengers raise up these songs with clarity and purpose. Artful and ambitious throughout, Oh, Common Life may not bring cheer to most listeners, but the passion informing both the lyrics and the music shows that Fireworks offer something genuinely life-affirming despite their dour surfaces.
It’s been beyond impressive to watch Fireworks evolve over the last eight years from an earnest Midwestern pop-punk outfit inspired by New Found Glory and the Movielife to the band who created their latest, Oh, Common Life, an album that brilliantly straddles the group’s roots while pushing ahead into bold new territory. Even coming off a truly stellar previous full-length (2011’s Gospel), this new effort marks another massive step forward for Fireworks, who once again enlisted ace producer Brian McTernan (Thrice, Senses Fail) to build upon the magic they kindled on Gospel. And man, do they stoke that spark into a blaze.