The Fireworks - Switch Me On

by Steve Reynolds Rating:8 Release Date:2015-02-10

The burgeoning years of independent music (or, in more specific terms, a cassette put out by the NME called C86) brought a major sea change in the sound of the British underground. It inspired bunches of kids to pick up instruments and created a whole new vanguard of swirly, jangly, lo-fi pop music. 

Some bands were more direct and hooked in their love of music with a political edge (McCarthy), others just talked about girls and break-ups (Wedding Present, Primal Scream, Soup Dragons) and others were cruelly labelled as twee (Field Mice, Flatmates, Razorcuts). There was room for any persuasion and what may have been seen as insular actually opened doors to a host of bands who today use those nuances to their advantages. To name but a few of today’s C86 torch-carriers, you can feast on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Joanna Gruesome and Alvvays.  All are different but remain steeped in the original template.

London/Brighton four-piece The Fireworks are ripped from the same cloth but bring an edge of drive and ambition to complement the fevered guitar rush on their new album, Switch Me OnFrom the opening strains of ‘With My Heart’, they swarm fuzz and noise all over the vocals like a plague of rampant honey bees looking for a place to bed down. It’s frenetic and tortured but heavily laden with hooks in all the right places. ‘Runaround’ is much scuzzier; the buzz-saw deep-fried guitar wrestles with the vocal before a cleverly placed jangly six-string ties it all up perfectly. 

But it’s not all 100-miles-an-hour stuff, as proven by the gentler, dream-pop likes of ‘Let You Know’, a welcome break even if it's only track three.The album’s title song is saturated in reverb and saccharine melancholy but, once again, the minimal motoric percussion and simplicity of the arrangement is instantly likeable. 

In total there are 13 tracks on ‘Switch Me On’, and the band have got the perfect mix of songs split between the male and female lead vox. They exit with the sounds of Galaxie 500 in our ears on the camp-light fire of the stripped-down ‘In the Morning’, another mellow moment in a sea of noise. 

There isn’t a huge amount of variation in the band’s repertoire so forget avant-garde noodlings if that is your bag, but what you can expect is an album that is fun, bouncy and ripped to the hilt in beautifully crafted pop songs.

The Fireworks are keeping the indie-pop flag firmly flying high and long may they continue to do so.

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