Flashlight Arcade – The Art of Blacking Out
Release Date: June 7, 2005
Record Label: On the Rise Records
Flashlight Arcade, from New Jersey, recently released their full length album “The Art of Blacking Out”. This album combines several musical styles together – the band mixes old school punk energy with pop sensibility. The end result is a moderately entertaining sound that in the end sadly doesn’t stand out from the pack. Nonetheless, Flashlight Arcade is talented, no doubt. There is plenty of varied instrumentation, the bass lines on “Medicated” are intricate and technical, and the choruses are full of great hooks. Singer Dan Murray has a raw, frantic tone to his voice that’s less than perfect. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – we know how well it works for Hot Water Music.
The majority of the songs don’t really vary in tempo or structure, so the album grows old fairly quickly. In more than a few songs, the choruses follow a format as they drop in tempo while acoustic guitar and additional percussion support slow, anthematic vocals. This happens in literally over 70% of the songs, and I found myself getting really tired of it – real fast. This is also where the vocals become less interesting and become mildly annoying. Dan’s voice is often out of key and I found myself wincing a few times mid-song.
“The Fastest Car on Earth” is my personal favorite track, as Dan’s voice is harmonized in key, making it sound smooth while still passionate. The acoustic guitar in this track really counters the thick bass and distorted guitars. The production on this album is decent, but it’s really nothing special. While the guitars are thick and punchy, the drums sound a bit tinny and the cymbals are turned up too high – sometimes songs get taken over by pure treble in your ears that overpower the other instruments. The vocals could use a little bit of auto-tune, but then again – they may have been going for a raw sound. In any case, it doesn’t sound good.
Overall, this album is a worthy effort that will appeal to a certain group of fans. Fans of rough, unpolished bands such as Hot Water Music will enjoy this CD.