Thursday, October 2, 2008

Review: Dear And The Headlights - Drunk Like Bible Times (* * * *)

I saw Dear And The Headlights live last year opening for Muse. Of course, Muse was headlining for a reason, and even though I enjoyed Dear And The Headlights, I only checked them out once after the show and soon forgot about them entirely. Turns out that was a mistake. After seeing Drunk Like Bible Times pop up on a few sites, I took the time to listen and was instantly impressed.

It's hard for me to describe why Dear And The Headlights are so intriguing. Their indie rock sound is not especially unique nor is their approach. Those who are more pop-cultured than I could probably list a slew of influences, but the band that comes to mind at first listen is Okkervil River (though I am occasionally reminded of Arcade Fire as well). The most striking resemblance is singer Ian Metzger's voice, which can sound quite a bit like Will Sheff's, though Metzger's is a much stronger and more emotive singer than Sheff could ever hope to be. The music is also familiar, treading mostly down territory already well-covered by a variety of indie bands.

The strength of Dear And The Headlights lies in their ability to compose strong material and present it in a mature and interesting way. Drunk Like Bible Times sounds like the work of a band that has been around for a while, yet has the energy of a group that still endeavors to impress. The opener, "I'm Not Crying, You're Not Crying, Are You?" breaks into a melody so captivating you'll be forced to continue to "Bad News," a tempo-changing number just as infectious. Other highlights include "Talk About," a catchy track full of wild imagery, and the closer "I Know," complete with handclaps and a group vocal chorus. It all sounds original and fresh even while the back of your mind is reminding you that you might have heard this before.

The solid songwriting and musicianship of Drunk Like Bible Times make it an album worthy of your attention. Dear And The Headlights are a band that will hopefully grow to make something completely their own, but for now, creating a record this good will do just fine.