A blistering, buzzy shot of punk-ish pop (or, perhaps, pop-ish punk), “Runaround” is a brazen reminder that digitalia only gets you so far in a world that still exists in three dimensions (so far). There’s a chunky permanence to the guitar-bass-drum attack of The Fireworks that renders the knob twiddling that dominates 21st-century pop music sound like a kind of quaint sideline. Music that does not depend upon physical vibrations of physical objects in the physical world is still music, of course, but that’s my ongoing point: there are different kinds of music, and engaging instances of all these different kinds can and must each be encouraged and celebrated, rather than one kind being dismissed as somehow “un-hip” while another kind experiences a bubble of over-production. Coming to a classic, melodic, three-chord headbanger from the vantage point of the year 2015, to my ears, automatically makes this new and different from whatever past bands you’d like to cite as progenitors of this style. (Me I hear a kind of Elastica-meets-Ramones vibe; what could be bad?)
The song’s simple, crowning achievement is the relentless downturn at the end of each verse line. Classic pop would often give us a downturn at the end of the first line, balanced by an upturn at the end of the second line. Here, the downturn at the end of the second line not only fools us by going down at all but goes down to kind of an off note (first heard at 0:18), surely not the note our ears were expecting. “Runaround” takes us three seven straight downturns (alternating four of the first kind and three of the second) before the last line of the verse becomes the beginning of the chorus, with the long-awaited upturn at the end of the word “Runaround.” Through it all, lead singer Emma Hall finds an effective middle ground between blasé and excited, letting the hugeness of the guitar sound swell her forward without giving her much pause. I always liked best the punks who weren’t too in love with their toughness; they were the ones to count on for melody. And still apparently are.
The Fireworks are a quartet from London. “Runaround” is the second track off the band’s debut album, Switch Me On, which was released last month on Shelflife Records. You can listen to it as well as buy it via Bandcamp.