September 05, 2003

Evening Lights "Landscape"/"2003 Tour CD"

Pop music from veteran pop kids, you really shouldn't expect less than their personal best, right? Evening Lights do have a long history of making twee indiepop, and this supergroup certainly has a lot to offer. Featuring members of Autocollants, you expect good popness, and good popness is exactly what they have to give. Like a Saturday afternoon playlist on a hip college radio, the music here is mellow, gritty and pretty, changing up a little bit with each song, yet retaining that lovely pop style.

On Landscape, Evening Lights waste zero time defining their sound. The first song "Telephones & Traffic Lights," they set a mellow mood, complete with lush background (or Lush background, but let's not be snarky), to-die-for girl harmonies (courtesy of Ann and Laura Walting) and some pretty fine synthy atmospheric backing. They pull out the jingle-jangle guitars on "Landscape," recalling the best moments of The Sundays. "Pheadra" is mid-90s indie-rock at its finest, reminding me of Velocity Girl. It's not the strongest moment of the EP, but this weak moment is still stronger than other bands who try twice as hard as Evening Lights, so what does that tell you? "In A Day" and "Starless" simply back up the previously defined styles, all to nice effect.

As a special bonus, they rush recorded six other songs shortly before their first national tour, and put them together on a limited edition cd-rom. It's kind of annoying, but I wish they'd waited--these songs are excellent! Though the six songs on this EP are all rough around the edges, there's a certain magical charm within the roughness that makes these shine like jewels. Much like the well-circulated Lush demo-tape, these songs have an urgency that their studio releases don't have. True, a little more polish on songs like "Make Yours Like Mine" and "On & On" would give any of the songs on Landscape a run for their money. In rough form, these songs put to shame the lesser moments of Landscapes--and that's saying a lot. They sound like they've had too much coffee before the session, though, and that makes it nice as well. (This isn't a live concert--as you might think from looking at the sleeve--but this is a live studio recording.) I wonder if these songs will appear on their upcoming full length? I hope not, because these songs are perfect as-is.

Evening Lights? Keep an eye out for 'em. You'll be glad you did.

--Joseph Kyle

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