Personnel: Matthew Rimell (vocals, guitar); Emma Hall (vocals, tambourine); Shaun Charman (guitar, drums).
Recording information: Soup Studio (05/2014).
Noise pop combo the Fireworks have an impressive pedigree, sporting vocals from Emma Hall of Pocketbooks, guitar and vocals by Big Pink Cake's Matthew Rimell, and drums by Shaun Charman of the Wedding Present and Popguns. They take inspiration from the long line of great noise pop bands the U.K. has churned out over the years, from Buzzcocks to Shop Assistants to the Charlottes and up to the present day with bands like Strawberry Whiplash. The quartet's debut album, Switch Me On, is a tightly wound, energetic blast of fuzzy guitars, thumping bass, and smartly stuck drums, topped with Hall's candy-sweet-on-the-outside, tough-as-wire-on-the inside vocals. Rimell chimes in the occasional vocal for some balance, and when their sound starts firing on all cylinders, the band come very close to the high level of quality of their hero's finest work. At the Fireworks' best, like on the rampaging tracks "Runaround" and "On and On," the group wed the energy of punk with the sharp hooks of indie pop with skill gained from years of practice in other bands. Most of the album sticks close to this Shangri-Las-backed-by-the Ramones template, with slight variations from song to song. They show that they have skills that stretch beyond these simple charms on the few songs that bring down the noise level and cut the tempo, like the jangling ballad "Let You Know" and the slowly strummed "In the Morning." It adds a nice dimension to the album, but really, the core competencies the band exhibit on the cranked-up rockers are so impressive, they don't need it. Speaking of needing though, if you like your pop loud and tight with hooks that will cut through you like a rock through a window, the Fireworks are a band you need to check out and Switch Me On is a strong introduction to their brand-new retro sound. ~ Tim Sendra