The Lights have been a band for more than 10 years, but are just getting around to releasing their third album, Failed Graves. In this day and age when a lot of bands take on the publish or perish mentality, the Lights work at their own pace. It’s been four years since their previous record Diamonds and Dirt, but the band have been anything but sedentary. Besides opening for the Obits last year on their west coast tour the band have kept busy with other endeavors. Guitarist and singer Craig Chambers has released records with Matthew Ford of the Factums as Love Tan and solo as Le Sang Song. Bassist and singer Jeff Albertson has his other group, the hip hop duo Lamborghiniz where he teams up with the Coconut Coolouts Pete Zaparty.
Taking an if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach to the new record, they recorded it (like their previous two) with Erik Blood last year. It could be their best, though it’s a little early too say that definitively. The anti-war rocker Famous Gunshots seems like the centerpiece of the album. Chambers’ lyrics provide stark imagery of dead men and bits of little girls in trees, to Alberson’s and Rogalski’s military march. Gingerella, which Chambers included on his Le Sang Song record, also reappears, but takes on a much more intense and provocative personality, and there are more wire-y abrasive rockers in Craig Jr and Nervous Breakdown (Black Flag cover) keeping the pace of the album brisk. The Lights don’t slow down too much, but the Alberstson sung Puerto Escondito does let them take a bit of a breather. It’s got a gunslinger feel to it, starting Spaghetti western, Morricone sounding guitar and then goes into a big chorus that feels like you’ve been crawling across the desert without water for days.
The coolest thing about the Lights is how they are able to take their UK post punk influences, travel up to the mountains to some isolated shack and boil them down in a still and come up with something that sounds like wild mountain men doing angular punk rock. Listening to the Lights reminds me of stuff like Gang of Four, Johnny Horton, Neil Young, New Model Army and Eleventh Dream Day, but they don’t really sound like any of those. The Lights have done something that many before them often fail to do, distill their influences into something acerbically unique.
This Friday night (26 February) at the Funhouse is the official unveiling of Failed Graves with Erik Blood and Partman Parthorse opening. It’s sure to be a great gig.
mp3: The Lights – New New (from the new album Failed Graves)
Place your order for the Lights new album over at their label, Wantage USA.