Album Review: Light Up The Sky – NightLife

The music industry is an extremely fickle place that most of us will undoubtedly never understand. Without having insider knowledge, you’ll never really know how it works, why decisions are made the way they are and what takes bands such an unbelievably long time to apparently release music on certain labels. Presumably, the latter is due to the promotional campaign created to help set the bar for upcoming releases, but in a new age of essential digital music renaissance and nearly on-demand everything, the concept of long, drawn out campaigns is still mind-bogglingly used. I bring this up because Spoken, WA natives Light Up The Sky are finally set to release their album NightLife on March 18th via Rise Records after almost a year of teasing and 6 months after announcing their signing to Rise. With such a long period since the signing announcement and an even longer period for pre-label fans, you began to wonder what the band has been cooking for so long. The final product? A well-crafted album that doesn’t push progression, but fine tunes a sound that a large majority of core bands are moving away from.

[tw-toggle title=”About Light Up The Sky”]
Genre: Post Hardcore
Label: Rise Records
Release: March 18, 2016
Connect: Facebook | Twitter
Purchase: iTunes | Google Play

Vocally, Light Up The Sky makes heavy use of harsh and clean vocal styles and noticeably makes a living on the poppier, catchier, side of post hardcore; with pop tinged lyrics ranging from topics of romance to self-acceptance and being who you are. With the style and delivery being moved away from by the more popular bands in the genre in favor of a more alternative and radio friendly sound, it’s a throwback and refreshing course to a sound so many fell in love with years ago. Instrumentally, NightLife isn’t doing anything out of this world, however, the instrumentation moves with vocal styles well. The catchier riffs sit nicely behind the clean vocals to make a nice combination while the more intricate drumming and fills lie behind the heavier vocals to go along with the more aggressive nature. Again, nothing too complex, but it’s nice to see the music and vocal styles complement each other rather than one standing out on its own while the other plays second fiddle. There is minimal use of programming, most notably found on the opening/title track and sparsely on various other tracks, but the use of electronics and random vocal effects are on the light side which helps the band showcase their overall sound.

Light Up The Sky – I Will Never

Merch: iTunes: How many words do I have to say? How many times did you walk away? I wanna feel, I wanna feel like I’m your only one And Now I’m lost under all the pressure Where are you now? I’m sinking down.

Upon first listen, the album felt very Jekyll & Hyde with the first half being the poppy, cleaner side and the second half drawing out more aggression musically and lyrically. The instrumentation seems to hit much harder along with more breakdowns and “chugs” living in the second half in comparison to the first 5 or so tracks. After multiple listens, I still notice this split sound, but it’s much subtler and nuanced as the aggressive tones have become more apparent earlier in the album. Next to the style split, my biggest issue with the album is that it’s partially made up of older material that’s been reworked and harkens back to my opening point – why the long wait? The album features 11 tracks clocking in at 37:31, however “Memories” is merely an interlude, “Letting Go” is the typical thrown on acoustic track and “NightLife”, “I Will Never” and “Bring It On” were previously released tracks over the past few years. While it’s apparent the newer tracks were reworked (and for the better), it’s slightly disappointing that there weren’t more new tracks on the album or that it wasn’t a few tracks longer to offset the older singles.

As a total package, NightLife does end up falling into many of the tropes purists claim to be generic, but in my eyes, that isn’t a bad thing. Finding the post hardcore sound of the late 2000s/early 2010s that is well produced and well executed is becoming increasingly harder as more bands head towards a mainstream sound or go down a path of intricate experimentation. Additionally, it’s not as if they haven’t modernized the overall sound; in fact, it’s very much an album that belongs in the here and now, it’s just not an album pushing boundaries which is completely OK. Looking at it from the perspective of a music fan rather than a music critic, I want an album with consistent replay-ability and listen-ability and to that, NightLife delivers what my ears were hoping to hear in spades.

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