Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “River” by There Will Be Fireworks from the 2013 album The Dark, Dark Bright on Comets & Cartwheels.
Scotland has been particularly good at producing emotionally charged bands the past few years (see: Frightened Rabbit, CHVRCHES), but despite hailing from a country with high standards for music that can be both mournful and triumphant, There Will Be Fireworks follow through on the bombast that their name promises. Formed by singer/guitarist Nicky McManus, drummer Adam Ketterer, guitarist Gibran Farrah, and bassist David Madden in February 2008 while at university, the band’s momentum built around Glasgow as they prepped their 2009 self-titled debut, an album filled with the emotional punch that seemingly only young men facing adulthood can conjure. Their post-university plans were less facilitating to the group’s efforts though, and the members’ careers put the band on ice until last year, when they returned with The Dark, Dark Bright, an album that uses the quartet’s experiences from the past four years to build on its predecessor’s strengths.
That development is no more evident than the two-minute mark in “River”, a breathtakingly urgent plea that reaches an furious pace early on and never lets go. Filled with more than a few of the key trademarks of any upbeat tearjerker (ambient guitar and copious amounts of drum-pounding), “River” reads like a stream of consciousness speech that’s painstakingly delivered by McManus, peaking in the aforementioned moment when he shouts, “You should clasp your hands and pray/You brought the pain/If you love me lightly, I’d love you the same/In time”, screaming the final line and then echoing it a few more times for maximum effect. McManus and the band leave everything they have on “River”, three minutes of confessional catharsis so gripping that it leaves you equally exhausted and exhilarated when it’s over.
There Will Be Fireworks don’t have any gigs on the docket at the moment, but you can keep up with any new shows or music by keeping a tab on their Facebook and Bandcamp pages. Below, watch the band play “River” live from Old Mill Studios last December.