The amount of pop-punk albums out in time for summer is pretty staggering for 2011. The Wonder Years, The Swellers and Living With Lions are just a few of the names that have albums set to be released for summer ’11. Five-piece, Detroit-based outfit Fireworks is another name to be tacked on to the great up-and-coming albums to jam at the beach or on those long car rides with the windows down this summer. With their follow-up to 2009’s All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion, titled Gospel, Fireworks have without a doubt released their best album to date.
Right from the start, Fireworks display how well they can put together a fun summer jam. Openers “Arrows” and “I Was Born In the Dark” will have any listener singing along to the chorus by the second or third listen. As vocalist Dave Mackinder sings, “I stopped searching for the holy ghost cause I’m in hell,” one can’t help but belt out along with him. Likewise in “I Am the Challenger” as Mackinder softly croons, “We’ll watch the news like we always do/the world’s a fucked up place/but I feel alright with you,” his lyrics convey exactly what he desires in an intelligent way.
It’s clear that Fireworks is a band that knows exactly what they are capable of and they unleash it relentlessly on the ears of giddy pop-punk fans in the form of infectious guitar hooks (“Summer” and “Oh, Why Can’t We Start Old and Get Younger?”) and bouncy “whoa oh’s” (“We’re Still Pioneers”). Blowing through the album with gem after gem, Gospel never features a dull moment. Every chorus is huge, every lyric is packed with devotion, and every note strummed is placed perfectly within the rest of the music.
Delicate songs like “Teeth” and “I Am the Challenger” help with variety while upbeat tracks like “X’s On Trees” and “I Locked My Time Capsule” maintain the fun summer vibe of Gospel. “Life is Killing Me” emerges as one of the best songs Fireworks have collectively written. After one of the catchiest verses on the album, Mackinder exclaims in the chorus “Sometimes ‘why?’ is a question/That I wish I never even learned.” With vocals flying to new heights backed by prominent power chords, “Life Is Killing Me” has gone down as one of my favorite songs of 2011.
Topping off the album is Fireworks’ tribute to their own immaturity. “The Wild Bunch” is a song all about being a bunch of weirdos with your friends and loving every second of it. It’s a perfect song for the group of weird teen friends out there that would feel it appropriate to be belting “We all grew up weird enough!” along with the rest of Fireworks as the pop-punk masterpiece that is Gospel comes to a satisfying close. But the fun is far from over, as the replay value of Gospel is unparalleled to any other album released this year, and we will always remember how Mackinder was naked in the field behind her house.
In the end, Gospel is one album that will go down as one of the best pop-punk albums to come out of this new pop-punk explosion of the past few years. For most, this will be just a great album to merely jam to for years to come, but for some of the younger listeners, this could very well be their generation’s Sticks and Stones.