Oh, Common Life

Written by: PP on 13/04/2014 23:30:11

Ladies and gentlemen, this is how to sell out Fall Out Boy style. Once throbbing pop punk newcomers with crunchy, hardcore rooted riffs and bouncy rhythms, Fireworks have gone overboard on polish and pop melodies on third album "Oh, Common Life". It's a transition mirroring the change in direction that FOB went through between "From Under The Cork Tree" to "Infinity On High", a conscious effort to rid yourself of the youthful and vibrant New Found Glory worship and replace it with more mature songwriting instead.

To an extent, this approach works very well. "Play 'God Only Knows' At My Funeral" is a lyrically strong piece with a great chorus that sticks itself to your mind like glue through a combination of the "I'm half the man my father knows I should be" lines and the flawless vocal performance by David Mackinder. Similarly, "Flies On Tape" showcases his much improved range, where it almost feels like he's singing an octave higher than in the past in places, this time recalling Patrick Stump rather than the more nasal style of Jordan Pundik (New Found Glory) that he mirrored himself after in the past. So in that sense "Oh, Common Life" is Mackinder's coming-of-age album, one where he both demonstrates his chilling technical ability as well as his self-reflective and emotionally sound lyricism that in the past hasn't manifested itself in such a metaphoric manner. "The Only Thing That Haunts This House Is Me" is another example where this department is on great display.

What this also means is that the record is much darker than in the past. Not just lyrically, but also instrumentally, where it is an equally significant change in direction as "Gospel" was from the debut album three years ago. The summer-oriented pop punk sound has largely been replaced with dime-a-dozen pop rock sections like "The Sound Of Young America" and especially "Run, Brother, Run", the latter feeling more at home on a The Maine record rather than on a Fireworks one. "One More Creature Dizzy With Love" is a slow, atmospheric piece symptomatic of the whole album; it feels like this newfound cherish of grandiose, almost theatrical pop drains all the energy out of their sound. The songs sound several multiples bigger and more far-reaching than three years ago, but as is the case all too often, bigger does not necessarily translate to better.

Fortunately, there are enough bright, pop punk oriented tracks that save the record from being a bland, forgettable pop rock disaster. It's not that the faster songs are in no way comparable to their best material on "Bonfires" EP or on "All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion", but at least they parallel tried-and-tested methods of writing fast pop songs, since multiple songs are delivered with an overtly simplistic disco beat while featuring danceable tunes akin to Panic! At The Disco's debut album. These are upbeat, catchy, and enjoyable tunes even if it's not the direction many older Fireworks fans like to see. It's just too bad there aren't enough solid tracks like these capable of carrying the album on their shoulders. They do just enough to lift Fireworks to a good rating, but based on their current progression chart album-to-album, I don't expect their next record to be of any interest to any fan of pop punk. This one finds itself at the outermost borders of the genre before it turns into standard fare pop (see: Fall Out Boy after "Infinity On High"), which is best exemplified by the painfully mediocre track three, "The Back Window's Down".

Download: Flies On Tape, The Only Thing That haunts This House Is Me
For the fans of: Fall Out Boy, Panic! At The Disco, The Tired & True
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.03.2014
Triple Crown Records

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