The UK’s own The Firefly’s bring together great music and good hearts on this latest, upcoming album Only Us, Northern Lights. Rather than simply compiling a collection of songs, the project has been crafted in a manner that begs for you to hear it as a single experience. The 45 minute record makes for an uplifting journey, a playlist of bright tracks with connected ideas and stunning musicianship. There’s a classic feel to it, a timeless quality remains throughout thanks to impressive songwriting and finely tuned performances from the entire unit.
The ‘album’ as a concept had seemed to fade away a little in recent years. We pick and choose the songs we like, we make our own playlists that suit the changing moods or tasks of our day. Fortunately, the joys of delving into a full length project are beginning to come back to us, and Only Us, Northern Lights is set to be a big part of that.
There are as many moments of lightness as there are of anthemic warmth and weight on this project. The band can thrive on the simple strength of an idea and a melody, or lean away in some sort of Mumford and Sons-like direction. Even then though, flickers of soul and the heavier side of rock come back to remind you where you are. Impressive solos, instrumental breaks, distortion – all of this is utilized as and when the moment needs it, and still that story-telling undertone, that Americana backbone, stands tall at every step. The opening song Grace welcomes all of these qualities at once during its near-five-minute lifespan – a beautiful way to kick things off.
Lyrically this album seeks to inspire a positive thought process. Having laid a hopeful foundation with its chord progressions and melodies, the stories that emerge appear with all the more brightness – the artistry is in everything at once. The personal touch is met with accessible vagueness that could easily embrace the minds of just about any music fan who’s willing to stop by.
Eclecticism works well, you get a variety of influences hinted at – from folk-rock roots to the more Oasis-style, classic UK vibe. The gorgeous This House Is Ours makes a welcomed appearance and keeps that organic folk shuffle alive and well. The song stands out where it is thanks to this delicate, near-acoustic presentation and a powerfully recognisable melody and concept.
Anna Again is a personal favourite, there’s a striking sense of unsettled thoughtfulness that seems a little more intimate and vulnerable than what that came before it. Julianne afterwards injects a level of smooth soul and jazz into the mix. The Fireflys have their sound and their style, but genre-wise they let nothing box them in. Release/Repeat sees a similar shift and holds close to that jazz vibe but quickens the pace. More and more so as the project grows you gather a clearer understanding of the band – along with a greater craving to witness a live show.
Push sees a hit of grunge emerge, a dark backdrop and a reverb-soaked, distant yet passionate vocal build an immersive and heavy soundscape. In stark contrast, These Cities, These Colours lets intensity fall away to offer a nearly whispered vocal line and a series of poetic images and deeply considerate ideas. I’m reminded of the days when an album was for all of us, something to sit with and obsess over – something unconcerned with genre but purely with connecting and allowing the listener that time to escape and feel better about their day. No one song encompasses this band’s approach to creativity as effectively as the album in full can.
The Sailor & The Sea is another personal favourite, unmissable for its emotional poignancy and the gradual development of the music – things rise up from quietly compelling to intensely inclusive and impossible to ignore. A definite highlight, a stunning song with a superb set of lyrics and mighty performances – the sort that capture beautifully the essence of the writing. Again, a live show is where this would create unforgettable waves.
My Heart (Live) ends the album with a moment of acoustic purity and openness. Whether solo or with the vibrancy of a full-band sound, The Fireflys have precisely the qualities required to appeal and connect in a genuine way. Their musical abilities are second to none, but what really sets them apart is their songwriting – this is where so many others tend to fall short. In this case, Only Us, Northern Lights is a magnificent collection, one arranged with care – and absolutely worth escaping into. The band lay their truth and their love for music out for all to see, and this makes it a refreshing and worthwhile project to take on.
Only Us, Northern Lights is the fifth album release from The Fireflys, due for release in early 2019 on Strawberry Moon Records. For tour dates or more information, find & follow the band on Facebook & Twitter or visit their Website.