Objectively Perfect 3: Fireworks
If there’s one thing more powerful than beer goggles, it’s nostalgia glasses. Kickstarter is based on the hope that the vision given by those glasses is powerful enough to overlook how little is in your bank account, and those sights of the future often win out. Hell, my first song on this series was from a damn Pokémon game and, despite how grand it is on its own merits, I’ll admit that my rose tinted view of “Lillycove City” probably helped propel it onto this “illustrious” list.
But it’s a rare song that feels nostalgic when it has no root in your past. I’ve never been a huge Animal Collective fan and I only started to wonder my way into Strawberry Jam this year, so why does it feel like I’ve known “Fireworks” for my entire life? It was released in 2007 and seems like a brother track to another ’07 masterpiece, “All My Friends.” “Fireworks” is happy, bitter, sweet and melancholy all at once. The top level of the song is made of the “ee-ah-ee” vocals paired with chiming piano that starts as whimsical, but drops into more somber waters as the line progresses. Underneath, the distorted chord progression drives the song along just as much as chugging, backwards drumming from Panda Bear. Of course Avey Tare’s vocal performance is stunning. It’s surprising his voice can still be intact after the chorus as he flips between chest and head singing along with beautiful vocal lines that turn into pained yells within seconds.
But the core of “Fireworks” are Tare’s lyrics. There’s a cry in his voice when he sings “I was dreamin’ of just you,” and “I can’t lift you up cause my mind is tired, it’s family beaches that I desire.” There’s a longing implanted in every note. The verses have the more jaded side of things and the chorus turns into a fantasy world. Animal Collective are desperately looking for a celebration in the midst of humdrum days and the chorus serves as an escape, but early on Tare delivers his most crushing lines:
“Then I start to feel tragic/ People greet me, I’m polite/ ‘What’s the day?’/ ‘What are you doing?’/ ‘How’s your mood?’/ ‘How’s that song?’/ Man it passes right by me, it’s behind me, now it’s gone.”
Perhaps the false nostalgia comes from my empathy towards Tare. People around you trying to be nice and you can only return the kindness with either apathy or lies. It’s a tough spot to be in, realizing that efforts from everyone else can become completely ineffective. The honesty of “Fireworks” makes it weirdly triumphant. It’s acceptance; acceptance that daydreams can take over and numb you to the outside world. And if your daydreams were this spectacular, why wouldn’t you want to stay?