Friday Night Lights
- Buy the CD
Reviewed by David Medsker
The record sales that Coldplay and Snow Patrol have racked up in the last few years would lead you to believe that the US and Europe have an open and friendly trade agreement in place, but that simply ain’t the case, at least not anymore. In the earlier part of the decade, the US welcomed bands from the other side of the pond with open arms; Daft Punk, Delays, the Chemical Brothers and Soulwax were scoring primo commercial spots with American advertisers, while Keane, Travis and Franz Ferdinand made significant inroads on American radio. In the last couple years, though, the climate for British-minded acts is decidedly chillier. The Delays’ last two albums have yet to be released in the States, and Travis’ final album for Sony was buried alive. They’ve since rebounded with a dandy little record on a major-supported indie, but we’re willing to bet that this is the first you’ve heard about it.
Yep, sometime in the last 18 months or so, an invisible wall went up, and the offshore bands that dared to sound, well, foreign, were given a stiff kick in the kitten. An insider friend tells us that the Kaiser Chiefs have all but given up on breaking through in the States, and as angry as that makes us, we totally get it, and that surely explains why the Feeling’s most recent album, out in their native UK since February, remains unreleased on this side of the pond. Follow-up releases by Editors, Bloc Party, Basement Jaxx and Hard-Fi have also been met with a collective shrug of indifference.
This is all a long-winded way of saying that, when we first heard Friday Night Lights, the debut album from Scottish quintet Attic Lights, we could barely contain our enthusiasm…so the band’s UK-based publicist contained it for us. "They’re just focusing on the UK at the moment," he politely told us, and we can’t say we’re surprised. Why bother trying to crack a pop market that worships specially manicured prefab starlets, and ultimately wind up millions in debt to a record label that never tried all that hard to break you in the first place? Ugh. Is there really no audience for Attic Lights in these here United States of whatever?
Cynical answer: probably not, but in a perfect world, there would be. Attic Lights aren’t flashy, or arch, or reinventing the wheel. They’re just fans of harmony-laden melodic pop songs with more hooks than the entire "Hellraiser" universe, which were in style for about 35 years or so before inexplicably falling out of favor. Fans of the Delays will find much to like in Attic Lights singer Kev Sherry; both he and Delays singer Greg Gilbert have raspy tenors, though Sherry isn’t as in love with his falsetto as Gilbert is. Then again, he has no need to resort to his falsetto for a hook: he’s backed by a group of guys that can sing circles around anyone. Check the ‘bop ba da da da" bits in "Walkie Talkie," or the way they turn the word ‘over’ into a symphony in "Wendy." If the Hollies were to come together today, they’d probably sound a lot like this.
Perhaps if they sang about being poor, or drunk (oh wait, they do that on "The Dirty Thirst"), swearing revenge on that girl that broke their heart, or how they once kissed a boy and they liked it, they’d have a chance to crack the US charts. Heck, the Verve scored a huge hit with a song just like the ones on Friday Night Lights, what, how long…Damn, that was 11 years ago. Sigh. Looks like this one will remain import-only. Anglophiles. On the plus side, the UK iTunes is selling it for 5.99. Wicked cheap, and worth every penny.