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Quiet Lights

The Big Fear EP

[Old Flame Records; 2011]

By ; July 5, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Quiet Lights are the kind of band who make music that matches their name. At their most apt their music flickers like dim fluorescent tubes in the distance, or like the lone desk lamp in an office block speckling an otherwise black background. The hushed female vocals also make for the same comparison, as amidst occasional atmospheric sounds built up on this four track EP, they are akin to some street lights going on and off in a back road not many people go.

Of course these descriptions are not just a little verbose but they’re also only correct about half the time. The other half of the time the band are letting surges of energy through and instead flash like some huge stadium floodlights, matching their aspiring sound that aches to fill a big empty space. “Engine Down,” the first of these two ambitious tracks, thankfully takes off after introducing itself with a riff that’s lacks any sort of memorable quality. When guitars and drums are thrashing about in a sort of inoffensive manner it’s enjoyable, but the two minute comedown at the end of the track feels unnecessary and unearned. “Simple Mechanics” fares much better as it builds much more gradually from a bed of warm ambience and guitars into a crescendo that could be described as a friendly shoegaze jam.

However, the band sounds much better and a great deal more interesting when they’re playing to their name. Opening track “Throat Cut” eases the listener in as those hushed female vocals describe a scene which sounds like a discarded film noir script (“Lights sprayed, rainy street / drops fly, cars speed by… ringing out in the midnight hour”) as drums echo in the background and guitars build to a light chug before dispersing away. Title track, “The Big Fear,” is a whole lot more appealing as a violin streaks back and forth as a bass warbles over and over, like cars speeding by a rainy dark highway. Half way through it all swells in a Sigur Rós-like manner, albeit not quite as affecting, but still textural and intriguing, like the scene is now that of a dramatic car crash on the rain-drenched highway.

I suppose you could describe it all as rainy day music, but never really the kind you’d jump to as you saw droplets of water starting to cover your window. If it comes up on shuffle you’ll likely listen happily as it goes from matching the gloomy weather (“Throat Cut,” “The Big Fear”) to briefly offering you something a bit more upbeat (“Simple Mechanics,” “Engine Down”). But let’s hope for their own sake that Quiet Lights create an appealing sound that goes beyond the randomization of your music collection and the weather taking a bad turn.


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