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Music Review: Wild Light – Adult Nights

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“Go and get your things now/We’re going for a ride,” says Wild Light on “Call Home,” one of the many, merry, poppy tracks from this New Hampshire-by-way-of-Quincy, MA quartet’s debut album Adult Nights (StarTime International/Columbia). It is a trip indeed, through two decades of anthemic, jangly-ish and folksy indie rock that is as nostalgic as it is modern-sounding (thanks to former Beck and Elliott Smith producer Rob Schnapf).

Formed in 2005, Wild Light has been building a buzz in the periphery of the mainstream rock terrain for some time. After releasing a self-titled EP in 2007 and playing the annual SXSW Festival each of the last couple of years, the foursome never stopped building momentum and winning new fans, touring with and opening for an impressive roster of breakthrough indie rock acts including MGMT, Arcade Fire, LCD Soundsystem, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, among others. In fact, bassist Tim Kyle was in an early incarnation of Arcade Fire before leaving to co-found his current group.

With the release of its long-awaited debut full length, Wild Light is poised to make a big splash on the mainstream alternative rock scene. And after many listens to the 13-track effort, it’s not hard to understand why.

Lead-off track “California On My Mind,” with its capo-fretted jangle guitar rock — in the vein of a more upbeat Phantom Planet — and expletives sung with a smile on singer/guitarist Jordan Alexander’s face, gets things off to a care-free, sunny start.

Utterances of car crashes and family lead the despair-driven “New Hampshire” for a little while, but the group’s harmonized vocals and “nah-nah-nah” choruses turn it into a pop anthem before long, capped off by buzzing guitars and MGMT-like synths.

The first seven tracks on Adult Nights have their moments of joy but tracks eight and nine (“The Party” and “My Father Was A Horse”) are largely forgettable. Along with “California,” the jittery, summery guitars of “Surf Generation” and the out of this world Jonny Greenwood-esque production on “Heart Attack” highlight the first half, while the twinkling atmospherics and simple ascending/descending electric guitar dynamics and Killers-like vocals on “Lawless River” highlight the late portion of the disc. And speaking of 1980s influences, the “ooh-oohs” on “New Year’s Eve” recall vintage New Order.

For all the hoopla regarding the band’s connections to the Arcade Fire, there is surprisingly little material on this disc that sounds like the Canadian rockers, the somber album closer “Red House” — not a Hendrix cover, incidentally — being the most notable exception.

Wild Light has spent time living or recording on the west and east coasts, and the music on this disc largely reflects that, with the greater balance going toward warm and fuzzy feel-good songs, though you may hear some colder, shivery tracks with sleigh bells from these Northeast natives at various spots (ex. “Future Towns”).

Thus, Wild Light’s first disc Adult Nights, besides having only a few sub-par tracks out of thirteen, will soundtrack more warm spring days than cold ones. Be sure to pick this disc up now before they, and the weather, really heat up.
Recommended If You Like: The Shins, Arcade Fire, MGMT, Phantom Planet, Brit Pop

To stream the full album, click here.

For more info on the band, go to their Myspace page.

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About Charlie Doherty

Copy editor/content writer for Penn Multimedia; print/web journalist/freelancer, formerly for Boston Examiner, EMSI, Demand Media, Brookline TAB, Suite 101 and Helium.com; co-head sports editor & asst. music editor at Blogcritics Magazine; Media Nation independent newspaper staff writer, printed/published by the Boston Globe at 2004 DNC (Boston, MA); Featured in Guitar World May 2014. See me on twitter.com/chucko33, myspace.com/charlied, & Facebook.