There Will Be Fireworks. It sounds like something a sports commentator might say before a title decider or grand slam final. It’s loaded with intent and certainty; entertainment and drama are a given. So it’s just as well the Glasgow band who chose that name are promising to live up to it, even if it was only struck upon through drunken chance. “One night we’d all been round at a friend’s house and woke up the next day with ‘There Will Be Fireworks’ in our phone inboxes,” says singer and guitarist Nicky McManus. “We’d been struggling to think of a name so we just went with it. There’s probably a meaning behind it that the beer haze of that night has since erased, but it eludes us.”
Although they went to school together and played “in various bad bands in various combinations with a few other guys”, it wasn’t until last February that the quartet of McManus, Adam Ketterer (drums), Gibran Farrah (guitar) and David Madden (bass) started to take their music seriously as There Will Be Fireworks (TWBF). All aged between 21 and 22 and at the end of various university and college courses, they’re now ready to unveil a self-financed debut album that is nothing short of astonishing.
From the spoken word intro by author Kevin MacNeil on Columbian Fireworks through the orchestral pomp of We Sleep Through the Bombs to the impassioned strains of last track Joined Up Writing, the album is rousing and magnificent, with an uncommon, almost Abbey Road-like consideration for the way the songs flow together. A work of lofty ambition, it took them a year to record, although this wasn’t as indulgent or tortured as that might normally suggest.
“We were only doing a few days at a time, stolen moments away from university and work, so it took a lot longer than it otherwise would have,” McManus says. “But that was a good thing because it allowed us to obsess over little details we would have otherwise have ignored.” Farrah agrees: “I reckon we spent about two weeks’ worth of time recording over the course of a year, meaning that we would record something and then have the time to think about what we might add or change to the songs.”
McManus’ lyrics tend to put heartache under the microscope, whether personal (“you’re unravelling in my arms”) or observed (“and if she dreams she dreams of the sounds you never speak”), but stay just on the right side of the fine line between earnestness and angst. “There is a kind of common thread on the album, but different songs are inspired by different people,” McManus reveals. “Basically, as horrendously clichéd and cheesy it sounds, the lyrics reflect a certain time and place in my life. Some of the lyrics are vague and some are a bit more personal but it’s probably best to let people interpret them however they like.”
TWBF have already attracted comparisons to Scottish trailblazers The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, in part due to a similar dynamic aesthetic, but mostly down to the mundane fact that McManus sings in his own accent. “There seems to be a fervour to lump everything with a Scottish accent together, and in doing so to gloss over any musical differences between bands,” he complains. “I’d feel daft if I was to sing in a pretend Californian or London accent or whatever. Hopefully when people hear the album in its entirety, we’ll be able to stake a claim to our own little niche.”
With critical acclaim surely around the corner and the follow-up already in gestation, There Will Be Fireworks look set to blow up in spectacular style.
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