[sic] Magazine

There Will Be Fireworks – Summer Moon

This album has been in my possession for just a few short weeks now, but its story actually begins somewhere around ten years ago, almost immediately after the release of the band’s second album “The Dark, Dark Bright”, when the band began formulating ideas for their next album.

The cycle of life runs deep through the veins of There Will Be Fireworks – and during those ten years, band members have spread geographically, become married, had children, developed their careers – and many of us spectators, myself included, began thinking that maybe they’d ridden off into the sunset, and The Dark, Dark Bright was to be their swansong.

It was therefore somewhat of a surprise when I learnt some six months ago during an interview with the band that they’ve been keeping this project on the boil the whole time.  Away from record company pressure (they self-release their own music), and no requirement to “shift units”, they’ve been able to do something which many bands are simply unable to – they’ve crafted an album.  Not as in “written and recorded some songs”, but fully considered every note, where to add dynamics, post-production magic, harmonies, layering, where to take elements away…

Within the first minute, we get our initial glimpse into the emotional journey that this album takes us on.  “The summer moon is up, and I am starving for your love.  So I go out in the night and I walk forever…”.  It’s moments like this which really pack a punch (and there are many instances).  The way that lyrics feel considered, or even agonised over, makes the album feel like a storybook which charts ten years in the lives of There Will Be Fireworks.

The dynamics really define this album.  Layers of guitars which know when to come crashing in and fall away.  In “Dream Song”, for example, there are parts where the guitars feel like they’re attempting to burst out of the speakers – and wait until you hear the real ‘punch the air’ moment at 3:14 during “Second City, Setting Sun”.

In “Classic Movies”, we hear about love (“It was only us, just the two of us.  I held you in my arms, Tinseltown in love”), with a nice lyrical tipping of the cap towards The Blue Nile.

Elsewhere, there are moments of tender reflection, particularly during “Old-Time Tunes” (“The years have passed like birds in flight.  One day you’re young, the next you’re not”).  If there are detours into melancholy, they’re temporary, and by “Something Borrowed”, the band is once again in full flight.  Lyrically, the same insecurities persist that many of us have (“Do you lie awake at night wondering who’s this by your side?”), but it’s the whole package which really makes the heart pump.

A word about the production.  There’s often a lot of simultaneous instrumentation, many different layers, particularly with the guitars, but the songs have been given lots of space to breathe.  Nicholas McManus’s heartfelt vocals reach right out of the speakers, and the drums & percussion really drive the songs.  As on their previous album, the Cairn String Quartet have provided the most beautiful string arrangements across many of the tracks.

I’ve been left simply shaking my head at this astonishing album.  Initially there’s the thinking something along the lines of, “I really enjoyed that track, but they’ll never keep that up across the next track.  Ooh… they did…”, and then the next track, and the next one… until we hit the final note.  Then I’ve found myself playing the album over.  One evening, I listened five times in succession, which is something I’ve not done in a long, long time.  Where many bands are beginning to falter with their third album, There Will Be Fireworks actually feel like they’re cruising.

With this album, I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they’ve created something magical – and this is without doubt one of my albums of the year.

~Summer Moon is out now on limited-edition CD and double LP via The Imaginary Kind.~

Interview.

The Dark, Dark Bright

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