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Fireworks - Gospel Album Cover

Fireworks - Gospel

Reviewed by
9.2
Fireworks - Gospel
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
For how much it's celebrated on this website, pop punk as a genre gets backhanded sometimes. How many times have you been wandering the forums and read something like this?

"Oh, it can't be this good. It's just a pop punk record."

How many times has a reviewer been mocked for heaping loads of praise on a pop punk band...just because the band wrote a record using a ton of power chords? This isn't always the case, but that problem won't even arise with Gospel, the second full-length record from Michigan's Fireworks. Released on Triple Crown Records, Gospel is the follow-up to All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion, with the Bonfires EP release coming in between those full-lengths.

"We don't really aspire to sound a certain way... I don't want us to sound like we're cool or anything but I don't really know many pop punk bands that we're currently always listening to as an influence," guitarist Chris Mojan said in an interview with this very website. "You know, we grew up on all that stuff. Direct musical influences though, I don't know..."

All genre classifications aside, there are two characteristics of Gospel that need to be mentioned now. First and foremost, the record is an enormous step up for the Detroit natives who have come a long way in just a few years. All I Have To Offer came out in 2009, but Fireworks goes all in with Gospel, and they cash in with a bang. Second most importantly, Gospel is - and I have a numbered list to prove this - the best record released to date in 2011.

"Arrows" opens the album with a bang, and right from the beginning you can hear the progression from Fireworks' past work. What stands out most is the highly improved production value and, to me, the quantum leap in the guitar work from Mojan and Brett Jones. The chorus is compact yet explosive, equal parts excellent songwriting and accessible lyricism that will be the focus of awesome live performances soon. Dave Mackinder's now-unmistakable vocals make a triumphantly successful return as well, shining most on songs like "Xs On Trees" and especially "We're Still Pioneers."

Fireworks throw a couple of slower-tempo tracks into the mix to shift gears, and both are executed surprisingly well. "Teeth" and "I Am The Challenger" are the two culprits, with the former being the standout while the latter is the only acoustic track (and perhaps the one question mark) on Gospel. "Today I waited / I waited in line to have my tooth removed / By a student / A student three years into dental school / They must have left some mess of chemicals in my gums / Cause from time to time my head still feels numb," sings Mackinder on "Teeth." That excerpt is one of quite a few possible candidates on the same track, as Mojan and Mackinder combine for what is definitely their strongest lyrical output with Gospel.

Not everything here is perfect and shining, as "I Was Born In The Dark" and "Oh, Why Can't We Start Old And Get Younger" don't quite match up with the superbly high quality of the rest of the record. I wouldn't call these songs bad - Fireworks just sets a high standard for themselves and after multiple spins these songs lag behind a little in comparison to the rest of Gospel.

Fireworks is still best when they're at their loudest and most intense, which is why the double-shot of "Summer" and "Life Is Killing Me" marks the most important part of the record. Both of these songs are blisteringly paced jammers, with the latter probably being the better of the two. Closer "The Wild Bunch" steals the show at the last second as the most impressive effort. "At least now I know that what I have was built by the people I love / You wish you loved anything the way I love my friends / Now we're moving glaciers, I hope this never ends / We all grew up weird enough to laugh at how we used to be / Did you turn out weird enough to laugh at how you used to be?" Those lyrics will probably be used as the Facebook caption for many a best friends photo (ahem, I've already used them), and even though Fireworks are still singing about their best friends two years later, I'm still not tired of it.

Fireworks aren't your typical pop punk band. They don't write music like bands they're grouped with, they don't carry themselves like their peers and they stand for more than most bands in the genre do. On top of that, they've now released one of the best debut full-lengths in recent memory and a more impressive follow-up that's more rock and roll-tinged than anything else. Whether this will be Fireworks' most impressive work or not remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: they've set the bar for everyone else this year.

Recommended If You LikeAll I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion, seriously I don't know who else this band sounds like.
Follow Me On TwitterTramps like us, baby we were born to run.
Bare Essentials1. Arrows
2. I Was Born In The Dark
3. Xs On Trees
4. We're Still Pioneers
5. Teeth
6. Oh, Why Can't We Start Old And Get Younger?
7. Summer
8. Life Is Killing Me
9. I Am The Challenger
10. Paintings Of Paul Revere
11. I Locked My Time Capsule
12. The Wild Bunch
Run Time: 36 minutes
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
AP.net Profile [Stream of "Arrows"]
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 159
11:48 PM on 05/22/11
#2
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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Good review, and a surprisingly good record. Their first album was boring and generic, but they really stepped up their game and creativity on this one.

Review is good, but I disagree with you on quite a few counts. "I Am The Challenger" is the one misstep on the record, and I find myself skipping that track nearly every time I listen to the album. And "Get Younger" is awesome, no idea why you think it's passable, haha.
11:49 PM on 05/22/11
#3
Nick Le
Yeezy taught me.
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I'm saving this spot for when I actually get through the entire tl;dr. But I was skimming and I have to say that "Get Younger" is probably my favorite song on the album, haha. Also, I am deeply in love with this album.

Edit: And read. Wonderful review, Thomas. But still, "Get Younger" is an awesome song. I don't care what people are going to say, I think it is completely deserving of that 92% you gave it. Even though the score isn't really what is important. The more I listen, the more I love this album. Regardless of whatever I fall in love with this year, this will end up high on my EOTY list.
12:16 AM on 05/23/11
#4
CastlesXClouds
Relax
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jesus, you have gotten me legitimately aroused from reading. i cannot wait to listen to this. The last album helped me out so much with life at the time. stoked.
12:21 AM on 05/23/11
#5
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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Good review, and a surprisingly good record. Their first album was boring and generic, but they really stepped up their game and creativity on this one.

Review is good, but I disagree with you on quite a few counts. "I Am The Challenger" is the one misstep on the record, and I find myself skipping that track nearly every time I listen to the album. And "Get Younger" is awesome, no idea why you think it's passable, haha.
I called it a "question mark"
12:24 AM on 05/23/11
#6
Avalanche1
Keep running, keep shining on
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Loved AIHTOIMOC and I love Gospel. Was great getting to hear some of the new songs live tonight when I saw them. Definitely is going to be near the top of my albums of the year list.
12:26 AM on 05/23/11
#7
TachyonEvan
Batman, for example, and Magellan.
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I called it a "question mark"
I guess I just don't think it works.
12:30 AM on 05/23/11
#8
woodmic
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The album took a couple of spins to get into but now it will definatly be in the top five of the year
12:43 AM on 05/23/11
#9
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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great record, knock me on my ass, especially since I thought their last album sucked.
12:44 AM on 05/23/11
SincerelyMe
Long live the car crash hearts
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I've listened to this album at least two or three times a day since I first heard it. I agree with most of what you said here, but I Am The Challenger just feels kind of awkward and out of place.
12:47 AM on 05/23/11
Keagan Ilvonen
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I called it a "question mark"
I'd dare say they sound almost like Less Than Jake.
12:49 AM on 05/23/11
rollerman4221
Woof!
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So I've had this album on repeat for about a week after I finally found it. I think that this album is basically the definition of perfect opening/closing songs. Arrows sucks me in instantly and The Wild Bunch is the perfect ending. Love the whole album, minus "I am the challenger" but no ones perfect.

Such a good album, definitely agree its the best to come out this year so far.
01:05 AM on 05/23/11
drevans18
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I'm so happy that this band is getting their deserved attention. This album is fantastic, and I cannot stop listening. I'm going to buy it when it's out, and maybe even a physical copy as well just to support them. They are amazing.
01:06 AM on 05/23/11
Croggs
No I will not make out with you
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Every song except I am the Challenger is awesome. I am the Challenger is like "Golden" from IOH for me. One of my favorite records this year for sure.
01:37 AM on 05/23/11
Soupy
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Record rules. Parts remind me of Fountains of Wayne. Parts remind me of Weezer.

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