Friday, February 27, 2009

Review: Wild Light - Adult Nights (* * * *)

New Hampshire quartet Wild Light, the much buzzed-about indie rock band, are set to release their new album, Adult Nights, which will be available next week. The band's first single, "California On My Mind," became an instant hit around the blogosphere and their connection to Arcade Fire didn't hurt, either (Tim Kyle was one of the AF's founding members). So the group have set the bar high for themselves on their debut, which is both an exciting and often difficult position for a band to be in when you're expected to impress for an entire album and not just a single or two. Fortunately, I can safely say that they easily meet our lofty expectations with the melodic collection of 13 of indie-pop tunes that is Adult Nights.

Wild Light play a sort of classic indie rock reminiscent of the 90s but they dress it up so smart it all seems new and fresh. Layers of vocal harmonies, jangly guitars, and bright keys keep the music inviting and instantly enjoyable, and the three singers' (Kyle, Jordan Alexander, Seth Pitman - they all sound fairly similar until you pay closer attention) smooth voices and sharp lyrics have a bit of a Win Butler earnestness to them but with a more laid-back pop style. The result is an album that feels anything like a debut, but a well-formed, carefully constructed indie rock record. Melody is the focus throughout, especially on songs like opener "California On My Mind," which bursts from the speakers with it's casual guitar sound and sunny disposition that might fool you into thinking this is another of those 'California' songs...for about ten seconds until the refrain kicks in to inform you that Alexander is not exactly singing an ode to the golden state. The next track, "New Hampshire" continues with a slightly more subdued version of that same musical style, as do songs like the piano-led "Call Home" and the melancholy "New Year's Eve."

Elsewhere, the band branch out a bit with some U2-esque guitars on the fantastic "Heart Attack," and a little more upbeat rock on "My Father Was A Horse," but the pattern stays fairly consistent throughout the record. The strength of the album lies in the generally strong songwriting and attention to detail that differentiates each track and causes the album's 45 minutes to be consistently thrilling if not often surprising. Wild Light are strong musicians and nothing on Adult Nights feels half-baked or lazy. This is an all killer, no filler album that I expect will be one of the better debuts released this year.


Anonymous said...

You do realize Kyle is not the lead vocalist on "California On My Mind" its, Jordan. :)

Chris N said...

Looks like I was a little lazy in my research...I'll get that corrected, thanks!