Review Summary: Anti-Flag still haven't grown up.
With Anti-Flag's eighth studio album, there are no surprises that The Bright Lights of America
is about everything that sucks with America, yet again. Also, it will mark their second album on RCA records, who are one of the biggest record companies in the industry. With that, a quick rewind for anyone unaware; Anti-Flag is apparently anti-capitalism, yet they are aiding in capitalism by signing with juggernaut RCA. Regardless, Anti-Flag’s latest work strives for punk rock greatness, but ultimately falls short.
"Good And Ready" begins Bright Lights of American
on a fresh note, straying away from standard punk riffs and drumming. Building off their new style, "Good and Ready" sounds similar to Against Me!'s pop-punk style, the New Wave
era specifically, with orchestra bells creating a theatrical effect. In addition, Chris #2's complex bass lines create strong foundations that stick out for a better portion of the album. It is relief considering cliché songs like "The Modern Rome Burning" and "The Ink And The Quill (Be Afraid)" needs support in some form. The fast paced punk-affair "The Modern Rome Burning" is about how America is set up for its own downfall, which is hardly clever. On the other hand, parents, for whatever reason, let their kids sing in "The Ink And The Quill (Be Afraid)" to aide a monotonous chant (one of many). Behind both songs comes the same 'epic punk' sound they are for whatever reason striving for. It is clear they are trying hard to produce this larger-than-their-heads sound, and it ultimately fails after numerous tries.
The ambitious sound of The Bright Lights of America
is a dreadful fifty-two minutes long; with an average song length over three minutes. "Vices" goes no where in what is the epitome of this album's length issues with repetitive, overwrought choruses and a lack of variations vocally. Listening to the inane lyrics (Justin Nane more like it) doesn't make it much better. In "The Bright Lights of America," they sing, ‘the bright lights of America/ life and death in a sold out 'Merica/ to live and die in the heart of America/ where they sell souls.' Seriously, is that the best Justin Sane and Chris #2 can do? While as catchy as "The Bright Lights of America" is, it is terribly cheesy. This is ironic because the title track, in essence, defines this album: great bass, better-than-average guitar, shoddy vocals, and crappy lyrics.
Anti-Flag can easily be fixed if they decide to finally write about a topic other than how the country they live in sucks (like it isn’t heard enough from everyone else in the world). The Bright Lights of American
could have been more palatable given shorter song lengths with greater variation. Still, Anti-Flag has not lost their classic sound and "The Smartest Bomb" is a prime example, reminiscence to "Got the Numbers."
The bottom line is Anti-Flag are headed by a thirty-five-year old with a moniker that is fit for the age of kids who listen to him. Justin Sane's name (along with the rest of the member's aliases) alone proves this band cannot be taken seriously. After all, he has written about the same played-out topic for as long as I can remember. Instead of telling kids to read the newspaper or watch the news, Anti-Flag forces kids to listen to their opinions; like it holds any meaningful barring on the world’s politics. The only rationale explanation is they want thirteen-year-old kids to think the ideas of Anti-Flag are this eschewed vision of society and politics. Until Anti-Flag grows up, they’ll keep churning out meaningless propaganda in the form of 'punk rock.'