Monday, 19 July 2010

There Will Be Fireworks - There Will Be Fireworks

There’s definitely a theme here: 'Columbian Fireworks', 'I Like The Lights', 'Guising', 'We Sleep Through The Bombs', 'Headlights', 'We Were A Roman Candle', There Will Be Fireworks.

The debut self-titled album by There Will Be Fireworks is undoubtedly themed. The four Glaswegian musicians make use of broad Scottish accents, which go from hushed harmonies to desperate screams as the dynamics of the songs rise into the air and then fall back down in an explosion of sound and colour (see what I did there?). The delicacy and understated-ness of certain sections of this album are hard to ignore, with some very moving piano or acoustic guitar, streaking into overdriven or delayed guitars, Arcade Fire-y crashing drums, and insistent bass.

The flow of the album is also carefully crafted. The songs contentedly and calmly collide into each other, as if written purely for album release, giving the impression of an epic rock opera. Beginning with the spoken word poetry of Colombian Fireworks, softer slowburners So The Story Goes and Guising, mid-tempo melody Midfield Maestro to the epic yell-along Off With Their Heads, an unforgettable tune that is the highlight of the album, and onwards through an anthology of other songs, no two sound quite the same.

The bass guitar playing can be best admired on Waltz-timed A Kind Of Furnace, where it dances (waltzes even) underneath flute flutters and oboe sounds and drums played with beaters rather than sticks, while at other points it happily undercarries the excited strobe light guitar.

Unfortunately, the second half of the album does not maintain the rocket-high quality of the first half, with the whiney lead guitar riffs and strained vocals beginning to annoy the ear. But this is still an excellent example of how an album should be written. Recurring themes in both lyrics and music, variety of instrumentation and arrangement, but all tied together with similar production. Each song easily snaps onto the last and the next to create a complete piece, as well as a collection of individual tracks.

Also, try not to be holding any hot drinks when you listen to We Were A Roman Candle; you might get a fright when the loud part kicks in.
Myke Hall

Monday, 5 July 2010

Sleepless Nights EP - Homework

Why anyone would name their band after the worst part of going to school, I don’t know. I’m getting ‘Nam style flashbacks just thinking about it. Thankfully I have the band’s charmingly agreeable tunes to chill me out.

Homework’s well-structured five-track debut EP opens with the title track, Sleepless Nights, a song whose jaunty guitar-indie sound propels steadily onwards like a canal boat made of Stratocasters. One of the defining features of Homework’s music is the unashamedly Scottish accented vocals – a rising trend in Scottish music, which is sadly still under-utilised in favour of a damp trans-Atlantic manner. You’ll get none of that nonsense from these Edinburgh boys.

All I See opens with a sleek and sexy production of atmospheric synth, reverb-heavy guitar and strong bass that would make Garbage or The Cardigans proud, and proceeds to trot on with a steady pace as the catchy chorus comes along: “LIFE-style, NO style, MEAN while, MORE MORE money”. Possibly the catchiest song on the EP, All I See shows that Homework’s music has some humour to it too.

Aside from its swooshing progressive middle-eight breakdown, third track Forget About Everything continues with the synth beeps and swirls, the 90s guitar effects, the mid-tempo canter, and the bass, as thick and meaty as a salami, of the previous tunes. However, the closing tracks take on a more epic quality. With vocals and lyrics leaning more towards the ballad side of rock, and a structure that builds up to a peak in the third act, 'Havana' and 'We Should Not Regress' grasp the listener, hooked by the catchy first songs, and lift us out of the water with urgent drums and ringing guitar.

As Havana elevates, the quirky guitar riffs become clangy chords, the drums become more urgent and excited, the bass becomes funky and reminiscent of Flea in recent Red Hot Chili Peppers works, and the vocals become more intense, as it closes in on its climax.

The climax of We Should Not Regress, however, is more like a clapping-your-hands-above-your-head, save-the-world power ballad. The tune begins by playing analogue beeps, like a confused payphone, against a piano part, and then climbs steadily to its crescendo, and ends on an echoey voice sample.

The Sleepless Nights EP sits comfortably between the worlds of art-pop indie-rock and that epic sound that Scotland loves, without ever resigning to either side, and without ever suffering for it.
Myke Hall