Format Reviewed: CD
"Firmament" is Braid playing only one chord and playing it twee; rest your legs on your ottoman and imagine ("ah, the Half Japanese of emo"), then do as God commands. Go out and get Millimeters Mercury, because we always need bands like this, where innocence and passion attach like spawn to rock lifestyles ("I'm trying to keep my guitar from getting wet") and over-the-top love. The lyrics cover the Bible: Lazy Man's Version ("the day was made in a day and a half") and Marvel Comics, too, while vocals are from a young Chris Stamey soundalike who leaps into the booth of words, then flies away over the pleasant (if redundant) churn of the guitars. Early songs like "The Sun is Falling" ("Do you think that you'll be saved...You can't live with that") hop along like kangaroo pop and sound best, but everything here is delivered affectionately, and holds its share of charm.
I even like the abrupt endings, always decided upon when the band appears clueless where to go next. "Don't Drive Away" drives circles around its melodies -- which is appropriate, as the song is sweet and you want the girl to stay -- while "you call that a poker face" is an instrumental about a bunch of young kids moping over lost nickels. "Milestone" has a few nice couplets ("Stretching out time / Just because it must pass by") and confronts true fears, like death. The remaining tunes keep pace. They go on and on about the "nervous heartbeats" in an adolescence we've actually lived through, and send it to us via catchy tunes that'll give you a hankering for cotton candy and beer. -- Theodore Defosse