“And we’ve changed in one hundred different ways, but my heart still beats the same,” sings There Will Be Fireworks’ Nicholas McManus on ‘Something Borrowed’, a billowing mid-point to their stormy and storming new record, Summer Moon. It’s a pertinent sentiment for a band that has indeed changed in so many ways, but whose new work can be traced directly to that which came before, so many years ago now.
The Glasgow five-piece return this autumn with their first album in a decade: the melodic and musically rich Summer Moon. Consisting of a near-hour of brooding indie rock, the album is built upon a collective determination and conviction that has led to the band’s most dynamic and accomplished release to date.
With work on the record beginning back in 2016, Summer Moon is a labour of love; the band carefully constructing its thirteen songs both remotely and in person, before recording at Gargleblast Studios in Hamilton, Scotland alongside engineer/producer Andy Miller (Mogwai, De Rosa, Life Without Buildings).
Where 2013’s The Dark, Dark Bright found There Will Be Fireworks on the cusp of adulthood, Summer Moon finds them in suitably reflective mood, ten years older and in the throes of marriage, fatherhood, love and death – and the weight of all those things is portrayed beautifully throughout the album. “Summer Moon has been written from a perspective that's ten years older,” McManus explains, “with wives and kids and mortgages and careers, and people close to you starting to die. There is a weight brought by all of that, I think.”
Underpinned by the band’s trademark melancholy, Summer Moon never fully gives into the darkness, still carving out moments of light; finding magic in Glasgow’s tenements and lanes and basement venues, and finding hope in glistening eyes and in love – in all its terrifying power.
This melancholy is sharpened by the band's musical progression. With more than 15 years’ experience under their belts, and an increased confidence in their abilities, the performances here are assured and exploratory. The shimmering squall of guitars is still there, of course, but Summer Moon is propelled by a rhythm section that feels more powerful and expressive than ever before. Analogue synthesizers – including a vintage Italian string synthesizer – add new depths to their sound and the Cairn String Quartet lends the record a sense of musical freedom that feels resoundingly alive. “Our preferences and influences have evolved, our habits have changed,” McManus explains of the band’s evolution of sound. “We are much more purposeful in our arrangements. If we’re going to go heavy now, we’re going to go heavier than we have before, but it needs to be earned.”
And so textures are zoomed in on, close enough to see all the pieces being gently put into place, and then, in the blink of an eye, we’re ascending, up and out above Glasgow’s orange-light dark-night glow, a crescendo of sound that carries the band to new heights.
Nostalgic at its weary core, but so often bracingly vibrant, it might have taken There Will Be Fireworks ten years to get here, but Summer Moon reminds us that, even as the years roll by, as the seasons come and go, some things are worth hanging on for.
Summer Moon is released November 3rd 2023.
— Tom Johnson, GoldFlakePaint