Out Go the Lights - Sun
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Jan. 1, 2012
Orlando, FL isn't really a hotbed for indie rock, but the young quartet Out Go the Lights are dead set on changing that. On their debut full-length Sun the group incorporates strong songwriting, inherent pop sensibilities and a charismatic ability to use an amalgam of sounds. The end result is a pleasing indie-pop cocktail.
The most immediate of the eight on Sun is the bursting and hard-charging "Pericles," a rousing affair with propulsive drums, ringing guitars and vocalist Alex Clements' teetering vocals. There's a very good chance the song could land itself on college radio and make a dent, it's that powerful. "Colombia" employs everything but the kitchen sink to relate a traveling yarn about isolation that is refreshing, amiable and ultimately very rewarding.
As it stands, the instrumentation used includes but is not limited to: maracas, glockenspiel, jam blocks, bongos, congas, and a tenor sax. If it sounds cluttered, the truth is the song is anything but. That being written, the song loses some of its appeal at the two-minute mark and it isn't until the three minute mark that it rescues itself. While it isn't one of the album's better efforts, it doesn't exactly diminish the band's body of work either.
"Only in the Sun," which ostensibly serves as the tittle track is also the disc's center point and one of the more winning moments. While it is not nearly as catchy or indelible as "Pericles," there is definitely something refreshing and warm about every passing second here. Whether its the sneering synths or the airy rhythms, there's something worth remembering about this one.
For all the upbeat moments of Sun, its best moments are actually on the more understated ones. Foremost of those is "Fate Song," a sultry summer song replete with trumpet and sax. The song begins tranquil and calm and then moves into a breezy, shuffling affair with whistles. Equally as memorable is the tender "Joy," a pleasing meditation on the end of a relationship that employs a dobro to anchor the narrative. That use of dobro also proves to be the song's biggest downfall. An instrument as dynamic and pivotal as the dobro could have easily been made the center piece here, but instead is relegated to a supporting role. Why? Who the heck knows.
Thankfully, "Seeing Lights," understands this, and that it also serves as the album's apex is no coincidence. Anchored by Clements' reedy vocals, a lilting violin and bells, the song is a true charmer. If "Seeing Lights," is the apex, then "Fate Song (Heart)," is the group's mission statement. The triumphant acoustic effort employs Clements' inimitable voice and marries it perfectly with an alto saxophone. And it is here that one can see just how limitless the potential of Out Go the Lights really is.
But it's at this point that one has to wonder why the band feels the need to be so heavy-handed, if songs like "Fate Song (Heart)," can be as compelling as they are? The earlier "Fate Song," would have been fun as a jazzy ditty, while "Joy," could have been a rootsy Americana cut. Restraint can often be the essential building block of separating the transcendent bands from those just passing through. Hopefully on the next effort, the band realizes that. For now though, Sun is an ambitious and auspicious effort and veritable proof that Orlando's indie rock landscape just may be colored by this band's success.