I wrote yesterday about what I’m pretty sure was the fourth record I ever bought. Today I’ve turned my attention to the third record I ever bought – Gospel by Fireworks. When I think of pop-punk records I hold particularly dear, I think of Gospel. As far as I’m concerned, the Michigan outfit released a near-perfect sophomore record back in 2011. In the six years since it dropped, I’ve listened to this album countless times, countless. I hold it up there with the likes of Enema of the State and From Under the Cork Tree, for real. For a long time, it was my go-to ‘feel-good’ album, upbeat and poppy, the occasionally weighted lyrics hidden for the most part by sharp vocals and breezy instrumentals. The band made a change with this record and went in a more ‘pop’ direction, but it was a change which it allowed them to surpass the peers they’d settled alongside in the years prior to its release. Gospel remains a shining example of how to write a good pop-punk album, a dynamic mix of quick-fire vocals and charged instrumentals. It’s sincere in purpose and affecting in delivery. It got some stick from critics when it dropped, but I’ve never been one to criticise it.
Released: 2011 Label: Triple Crown Records
Variant: 1st press / 300 Purchased from: Banquet Records
Riding the wave of the early 2010’s pop-punk reinvention Fireworks released one of the genres defining records during that period. The likes of Man Overboard, Transit, The Swellers and The Wonder Years became household names at the time, and Fireworks well and truly added themselves to the list as ones to watch – themselves releasing the record after a string of solid EP’s and a strong debut. With each release, Fireworks progressed and really delivered on Gospel by emerging into the genre mainstream golden. I like their earlier stuff also, but I think the band really came into their own here. The thing about Gospel is that it doesn’t really do anything wrong. I’m always tempted to label it faultless, though I know there’s no such thing as a perfect record. It’s a record that contains some cliche lyrics and occasional obnoxious vocals, but it’s as infectious as I’ve ever found the genre to be. Sure, it’s sometimes a little trite (“I stopped searching for the holy ghost because I’m in hell”) – but it covers up the cracks with heart. It’s also very easy to forgive any shortcomings when the record contains one of my favourite songs full stop – that song being Teeth – a track which almost occupied an entire summer with exclusivity. I’ve never really grown bored of it, happy to jam it whenever, and often. Gospel remains a highly enjoyable record through and through, from the singalong verses of Xs On Trees to the carefree abandon of The Wild Bunch. Every year I make sure that I listen to The Weekend Before Halloween well, the weekend before Halloween. Gospel has very much become ritualistically routine, an easy choice when it comes to filling forty minutes. It never lets me down.
Gospel was a record that came into my life when I wasn’t as happy as I would’ve liked to have been. It was my first year of college, and I was still hanging with the same friends, doing the same things, and struggling to commit to new experiences. There was a period of stagnation during which I had a tendency to wallow and beat myself up. It was a period I thankfully stumbled out of at some point, and things improved significantly thereafter, but I remember that on those days when nothing moved forwards Gospel was a source of comfort – cheery and optimistic when I wasn’t either of those things myself. I remember many a bus ride home after a disappointing day, with the record improving my mood. Maybe listening to it now makes me think of progress; maybe it makes me think that I’m not as downcast as I once was. Sometimes we need something cathartic and catchy – Gospel was very much that record for a sustained duration of time.
“My brain doesn’t feel the same as it did
four years ago.
Yeah, it doesn’t exist”