“It’s a refreshing contrast for me compared to my previous singer-songwriter releases. I wanted to take my music in a different direction and have more creative control. So now with a new name, new sound and new vibe, I’m ready to sing.”
This is Luke Underhill, the artist whose new musical endeavor — Playing With Fireworks — has delivered their first EP, Runaway, under such moniker. This instrumental creativity is felt throughout the entirety of the EP, and each of the four tracks brings something visceral and distinctive to the table.
And as dedicated artists will do, they explore beyond their boundaries, and see what other magic they may conjure. Such is the case with Playing With Fireworks. The synth-pop driven debut EP offers a nostalgic and anthemic sound chock full of cinematic fire and flair.
Regarding the EP’s creation, the Chicago-based artist stated that it was “Conceived and written on long train rides in and out of the city. Watching the world fly by, waving at strangers when they board, it was a lot of time to think and write.”
On the first track, “Saturday’s Masquerade,” the audience is met with something of an 80s alt-pop revival with glittery guitars, pulsing drums, synthesizers, and light harmonies. The song’s refrain, “Kissing me won’t change my mind / I don’t want you to cry / But the masquerade on Saturday is my goodbye,” carries with it an honest depiction of letting go even when it’s difficult. It’s not hard to imagine this song in a lighthearted 80s comedy-drama movie.
The follow up song, “Hurts & Burns Like Hell,” is equal parts upbeat and emotional. As Underhill’s raspy voice opens the tune with the lines “Leave me alone for the last time / You made it snow / So I’ll make the sun shine,” the instrumentals push the song forward and keep the audience tapping along to the beat while still being able to feel the emotion in his voice and lyrics.
The EP’s title track, “Runaway,” is arguably the strongest song of the collection; with a feeling that inches closer to a ballad than a rock anthem, the slight change of pace smoothly fits in with the rest of the EP while showcasing Underhill’s talent. His rough and raw vocals on lines like the refrain, “Runaway / I don’t want to play anymore / Far away / You’re breaking me down, don’t you see that?”, work perfectly with the song’s anthemic instrumentals to highlight the core of what he’s been singing about the whole time: love, loss, and moving on.
“Playing With Fireworks,” the closing track, brings with it a The 1975-esque outro with unique production and simple lyrics. Clocking in at just a bit shy of two minutes, this short-but-sweet finale leaves listeners satisfied with a sense of closure, while still eagerly waiting to hear what else Underhill has to say.
Packed with authenticity and emotion, Runaway is clearly a labor of love and imagination. The new direction that is Playing With Fireworks offers a refreshing look at the sonic versatility of Underhill, and time will tell just how far he takes it.