Single Review: BANNERS – Firefly

By on Wednesday, 11th October 2017 at 12:00 pm

Liverpudlian singer/songwriter Mike Nelson records under the name BANNERS. He was one of my favourite pop discoveries during the SXSW 2016 preview season, putting on a fantastic appearance Wednesday afternoon at the British Music Embassy that was one to remember. (Full disclosure: We are both Liverpool supporters, but this mere fact will not affect my ability to judge his music objectively.) From his humble beginnings in Liverpool, BANNERS is now based in Toronto, a place from which it should make it easier for him as an artist to gain a foothold here in North America.

Following the release of his self-titled EP and a series of blinding singles including the SiriusXM Alt Nation-friendly ‘Someone to You’, he’s recently unveiled the acoustic version of his latest single, self-described as “less aggressive”. It’s interesting that he mentions the word ‘aggressive’, as I wouldn’t describe the original, full-bodied version of ‘Firefly’ as aggressive only in the context of being a track that might cause one to aggressively stamp your feet. And who doesn’t enjoy that? ‘Firefly’ seems also perfectly timed to the end of summer and the entry point into autumn. As days grow shorter, fireflies, a marker of carefree childhoods and having fun in the great outdoors, disappear almost as swiftly as another season rushes in.

In ‘Firefly’, Nelson fancies himself as one of these summer night-glowing creatures of the sky. Here’s the rub: he can’t glow without the presence of his best friend, his lover, his confidante. In times of pining and yearning, he sings wistfully of their “worlds apart, it went dark / you were always on my mind” until they can be together again. The guitars and drums are never heavy-handed here, as if tapping into Nelson’s private, introspective thoughts. The only point of possible annoyance in this song is a repeated guitar note (?) in the chorus that sounds like a bird call being put through a synth effect. If that was absent, ‘Firefly’ would be pretty much perfect.

Like all good tales where lovers are separated by distance, when they are reunited, the sparks fly and that inner light that otherwise has been dampened by loneliness can shine again. Bolstered by honest lyrics sung in Nelson’s rich voice, it’s a sweet, innocent charmer sure to stay in BANNERS’ set list for years to come.


Single ‘Firefly’ by BANNERS is out now on Island Records. To read my past coverage on BANNERS here on TGTF, follow this link. While a support slot with Echosmith has been pushed off until 2018, shows in Los Angeles and New York with Sydneysider Dean Lewis are planned in November.

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