by Erik van Rheenen
There’s a terrific Latin turn of phrase that only really gets kicked around in art circles and eloquently worded textbooks, but frames the context of Fireworks’ post-Bonfires discography: chiaroscuro, defined loosely as the bold interplay of light and dark. While Gospel found Fireworks bright-eyed, optimistic, and battling a creeping sense of insecurity with sunny pop hooks and swashbuckling melodies that brimmed over with youthful joie de vivre, new album Oh, Common Life refracts the themes of its forerunner through a darker, more introspective lens.
No longer is this Dave Mackinder (and Co.) Versus the World — Oh, Common Life finds the Fireworks frontman grappling with his own internal demons. Instead of focusing the band’s sights on the “we’re all in this together” ethos that interwove the songs of Gospel, the energy of Oh, Common Life turns inward for an often-harrowing peek into where Mackinder’s mind roamed while penning the record.
The monster looming precariously close to the boy on Gospel’s cover swallows him whole on Oh, Common Life, and it’s made pretty damn obvious from the album’s opener, “Glowing Crosses.” The guitars that drive the song pack a moody punch, and the melody sparks with foreboding. It’s a long way off from “Arrows” and its bouncy call-to-arms that opened Gospel, but “Glowing Crosses” shines in both its maturity and songwriting — its hooks crisp, its chorus undeniable.