Review: The Fireflys – Only Us, Northern Lights

It has been said if you’re friends with someone for seven years you’re bound to be friends for life. Can the same be said about music?

Does having a history with music make one’s opinion any more just? I’ve been listening to Runcorn’s own The Fireflys for the better part of a decade now and in light of their forthcoming Only Us, Northern Lights (out May 2019 on Strawberry Moon Records), seeing as this is a circle of friendship and experience, I’ll pull no punches.

From Cathedral For Your Ashes, through Embers Of The Autumn, and past The Illumination of Everything there has been a common thread with The Fireflys. No, not the amazing Andie Packer and Lee Wylding. It’s been a blended sense of Americana executed in an airy English rock style that inspires and moves in such an identifiable way that comparisons are tough to come by.

The Fireflys have portrayed an Americana sound pushed through the mesh of an English interpretation as the collective of their being up to this point. Their fifth record, Only Us, Northern Lights contends this thought. It isn’t that The Fireflys aren’t worthy of such a genre, it’s that they are much, much more than simply being tossed into a vat of such deeply rooted sound.

The ten songs that construct a cornerstone in an already notable presence breathe a sound that is, arguably, the most captivating sound to come out of this band. Shedding the safety of their previous sounds, without diminishing it in any regard mind you, Only Us grips a darkness that is unexpected and utterly fantastic. As the album progresses out of the comfort of familiar compositions (a couple being quite literal reimaginings of previously released works) The Fireflys let in a deeper level of emptiness and truth that exists in spaces we find, typically, in world renowned musicians. The songwriting of Wylding has matured in a striking step in the right direction. From “Anna Again,” about a relationship with a ghost, to the Kelly Jones-esc, and my personal favorite, “Push” we’re met with a Fireflys presence that is as refreshing as it is unpredictable. Because The Fireflys have shaped a sound that is so staunchly their own, they need to be moved away from the association of anything Americana or the like. They’re a rooted English sound that deserves the nod; one that, many years from now, some artist in a TV interview will cite The Fireflys as their influence growing up prompting a rush on their albums, on this album. As such, it deserves a fresh genre, Britana, you call it what you will, but this is a class all its own.

As bad as it sounds (reminder: we’re in the circle of friendship), I wanted to find something wrong with Only Us, Northern Lights. With as much experience we have with The Fireflys we’re entitled to that right? I tried. There’s nothing. Only Us, Northern Lights, from rhythm presence, through the bridge, licks, riffs, and vocals, is as solidly enjoyable a record as we could possibly hope for from The Fireflys.

Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.

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