3 of 5 thought this review was well written
It's difficult to imagine the kind of impact that one band, let alone one album, could potentially have in just a few years.
Release in 2003 with a 4 year gap between the album that we find ourselves with here, Streetlight's Opus Everything Goes Numb
took the Ska scene by storm. Tomas Kalnoky(aka Toh Kay), frontman and mastermind behind this band, already did his share of contributions and legends, creating another Third Wave Ska classic in Catch 22's Keasbey Nights
, but I doubt anyone could've predicted that
EGN elevated the scene into all new heights, being raved by long time fans of the genre, newer ones and even those that admit to not enjoy Ska in the least, all alike. However, with time, what seemed like a blessing from the Ska heavens (I know, I know), became something also akin to a course in the process of being placed in its mighty position. Why? Because, similar to what occured with albums such as Loveless
with the shoegaze scene, EGN acted as a bit of a Too much
carriage for the genre. Quickly, the album became the point of comparison for just about any Ska album, and more often than not, the result was easily given to EGN, and eventually, not many people really knew how to follow it up, shrinking what was already a small scene, and making the interest in it slowly fade. By extension, Streetlight became the very face of the scene, any band within the genre had to go through them before they could be big named and their material(Streetlight's) had to be, from now on, nothing but masterful.
So what do they do about it? They chill and sit back as they prepare the next effort, if done at a slower pace than one would want. Here's the beautiful thing about it all: Streetlight knows
all of the previously mentioned, they know
how important they are and how highly regarded EGN is. And the thing is: They don't care. Not in the sense that they have no respect for what they did or what their legacy means, but that they don't intend to keep living in the past. They know who they are, and they want to become bigger, more ambitious, and possibly better(though that's always up for debate).
This new philosophy of evolution isn't very apparent at first, but it soon becomes more and more obvious as you go. In Kalnoky's words, he fused the album with "Eastern European and Gypsy sounds" to give it a more "worldly influence", and this is probably more apparent than anywhere in the horn section, the heart of any ska band. The horns are even more technical here than before, and they sound more appealing than ever; Although, sadly, this is arguably done at the expense of some of the rest of the instruments, which feel a little subdued in both the mixing and the way they are used, but the band's fantastic chemistry and Kalnoky's insistence in making everyone shine in some way keep them from being just a support for the horns.
Speaking of Kalnoky wanting to make the band members stand out, one thing that should be mentioned is how changed the feel of the lyrics is. They are every bit as good as before, however, they no longer deal with as many sad/touchy personal subjects, and the way they are written are a little less narrative. Instead, Tomas chooses to lay them in an even more anthemic feeling than before, putting heavy emphasis in the friendship and unision of the band. That isn't to say that there are no topics that you can personally/emotionally relate to, they are there and some are pretty good, but for the most part the lyrics have a much more grand approach, in conjuction with the rest of the music. As for the themes that they do
, for the most part, posess, a lot of the album is rooted as a critic to many of today society's bull***, and even some religion thrown in, the most obvious example being 'Down, Down, Down to Mephisto's Cafe' (Mephisto being short for Mephistopheles, which is basically the devil in German Folklore). The result is a somehow more uplifting and happy album than before, reducing the slow, sad sections you often found on EGN to a minimum and staying in an upbeat orchestra 95% of the time.
Going back to the instrumentation, the songwriting has also been improved. I mentioned in my previous review that Streetlight was a mixture of many influences and that this is best displayed here. I stand by the statement, the album being written with a perfect pacing, the songs flowing very nicely between them, and each one having the ability to stand out on their own, being by one displaying more energy or technicality than another. The usage of Tomas' guitar has been greatly toned down (Excluding the rare moments that the rest of the band remains silent), however this allow for a better, a bit more tasteful display of skill to both him when he's allowed to show it (Though he's not some guitar god and he doesn't pretend to be, don't get confused), and the rest of the band, namely the horns, the aspect that has received the most improvement (arguably), with them displaying some absolutely fantastic solos (Check 'We Will Fall Together') and catchy melodies.
This, along with the always excellent lyricism, make 'Somewhere In The Between' everything a good second part in a good musician's chapter should be: a logical step up from the areas that anyone knows can be stepped up, taking everything that they absolutely needed to make Streetlight, well, Streetlight, and leave what made their previous record special all alone, and instead attempting to give this a spot of its own by its own merits rather than a mere clone of what was done before. And, in this reviewers opinion, they did it quite nicely.