Album Review Air Castles - Lights

Air Castles have attempted to soundtrack teenage introspection; instead, it’s more likely to soundtrack trolley-pushing at Tesco.

Upon the first listen of ‘Lights’, I was struck with mild synesthesia. This record sounded white. The production crisp with every effect audible. Aside from a reminder of a colour, ‘Lights’ is unable to fuel real personal connections.

An album called ‘Lights’ sounds stock. And unfortunately, that’s how the album is. For most tracks, you’ll be pinning up mental notes: “This sounds like that Yeah Yeah Yeahs song!”, “those electronics sound like The Postal Service”, and “wait, is this that inner city twenty-something singer from that British indie band?”. Inspirations are worn on Air Castles’ sleeves on every track, and even in every note. But is there any personality to these songs? Lyricism tends to, or should, express something personal – even if it’s not strictly about yourself. But even the sung word sounds like the stories The Rakes told five years (minus the self-deprecating humour).

‘Another Restless Night’ sounds like a discarded piece of pop melancholy. It could fit on the flip side of a single from Bloc Party’s sophomore. The track adheres to a tried and tested formula; That of lightly chugged verses bursting into filled up choruses. Perhaps an attempt a mild indie anthem, it’s

When Air Castles add a personal flavour, there’s a sacrifice. ‘Falling to Pieces’ is an assembly of keyboard pushes, sparse drumming, and some reasonably melodic vocals. It’s played down. The track is subtle. You wait for that bursting chorus, but it doesn’t come. As more electronic glitches and acoustic strums fill your ears, hope is renewed: This is going one way. But in two seconds, a mild fadeout closes the song out. That is it. The band seem poised to create crescendos in most tracks. And this is the one track where it’s working well. The most promising and endearing example ends up being the most disappointing track on the album.

There is variation on ‘Lights’. Some tracks are straight up guitar-and-nothing else. Nothing-but-electronic, acoustic, and ballads are at one time represented. Despite striving for variation, these attempts are just the musical equivalent of MySpace ‘Influence’ listings.

Music of this type jumped the charts in the mid to late noughties. Bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay seemed to epitomise this radio friendly brand of guitar songs in uninspiring structures. Criticism of those bands often centred around blandness and the uninspired. If there was a saving grace for these acts, it’s that the execution was strong. But ‘Lights’ is lacklustre; Chords seemingly constantly repeated, lyrics like high school poetry, and every song sounding like lesser version something else. Air Castles have attempted to soundtrack teenage introspection; instead, it’s more likely to soundtrack trolley-pushing at Tesco.


Tags: Album Reviews, Reviews

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