Two years after their first offering, Fights & Fires come back swinging with the cheerily-titled record, ‘We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow’. If it’s a subtle yet bleak take on the ol’ idea of ‘carpe diem’, then it’s a damn good demonstration of the urgency of this album. From the opening chords of the anthemic ‘Chase The Blues’ to the calm-after-the-storm ending of ‘Small Town Boy, Pt. II’, the West Midlands four-piece’s sophomore effort is one that demands to be heard.
Sounding like an anglicised, southern-fried The Bronx, Fights & Fires pack in their punk alongside some stompin’ breakdowns so that even the littlest of songs throw the meatiest of punches. As brief as it is, ‘You Don’t Always Reap What You Sew’ shifts from breakneck to thunderous and back again with minimum fuss, while the pensive twang of ‘Cats Lives’ takes the album to some back-porch strumming before the Every Time I Die-esque ‘Mother’s Advice’ kicks the jams out into the yard.
The influences are used sparingly, with the band managing to carve out a sound that’s their own with some real punk rock ‘n’ roll gems. The hooks of ‘Tread Water’ are unashamed and infectious, and its riffs give it a groove that some of the straight-up hardcore punk tracks are missing.
Not that there’s many that feel that lacking, though. It’s pretty prolific for 11 tracks (the album weighs in on the lighter side of 30 minutes), but rarely do the songs feel like something all-too-fleeting. As a whole, ‘We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow’ might seem a bit of blur, but on closer inspection, that cliché of each track offering something different (as kicked-about and tired as it is) really does apply.
The triplet-led verse of ‘Rats And Vultures’ shakes things up while showing the instrument-bearing contingent of the band (guitarist Ryan Price, bassist Dan Solomon and drummer Lee Jackson) at their tightest. Even at their most frantic, it’s a polished performance that is set well against the coarse yells of frontman Philip Cox, who delivers his message with a snarl and sense of purpose.
This is a damn good record that throws itself about while holding no concerns for anyone else, and why would it need to? Assured and bold, ‘We Could All Be Dead Tomorrow’ is an album that takes the tried-and-tested hardcore punk/rock ‘n’ roll blend and makes it exciting again. Good stuff.
Written by Ryan Williams