The Electro Lights
It’s tough to write about bands like Electro Lights. They lie somewhere in the middle of ‘just boring enough to find things to criticize’ and ‘just interesting enough to find things to praise’.
This is the risk of making traditional guitar-driven music. “That girl is crazy, you better watch your back,” growls Electro Lights vocalist Sam Mahler on the aptly named opening track Watch Your Back. This sets the tone for most of Electro Lights’ debut EP: seven polished hard rock tracks that are coherent but fail to have any staying power. The problem isn’t that they’re offensively bad or anything; they just don’t have many original ideas. They would be a fun band to see live at a pub with friends, but they wouldn’t leave you blown away and reaching into your wallet to buy merchandise. Traditional rock riffs and crunching guitars will briefly leave you filled, but won’t last very long. There’s a certain sense of predictability in their rebellious attitude, like the complacent middle finger of an aging punk rocker. “My beauty queen/How can you be so mean/With all that I do?” Mahler asks on Beauty Queen. Like the aforementioned question posed on Watch Your Back, these kind of limp lyrics are par for the course. Tracks like Not Again and Find Me feel like the sonic equivalent of unbuttered popcorn; simply dull. There are some redeeming qualities to this EP, however. I found the second half to be much more enjoyable than the first. Modern Day Don Quixote is a more than competent throwback to blues rock and the intro of the Ballad of Scruff McGruff is definitely the highlight of the EP, starting with a math-rockish intro that’s soon joined by percussion and harsh vocals. The outro track, the Prequel, is a pretty solid way to end the album. Overall, Electro Lights remind me of the tame rock sound that the Black Keys have made so much cash on. Like I said before, it’s not bad, just not particularly noteworthy. According to their website, the Electro Lights have toured with bands such as The Offspring, Smashing Pumpkins, One Republic, and…Wiz Khalifa? Well, minus the odd one out, you can definitely feel the influence of the other bands in the Electro Lights’ work. And perhaps there lies the problem – they’ve yet to find their own identity.
For a debut, this EP isn’t bad, but there’s much better music you could be spending your time on.