Review Summary: City Lights grow into their own with a much more mature, honest record.
City Lights are a 5 piece pop punk from Columbus, Ohio who combines elements of metalcore into an instantly recognisable pop-punk sound.
Pop-Punk is an interesting genre born out of the American skate culture of the 90’s. A genre that had slowly became less popular with the advent of the different types of cores. City Lights have a metalcore twinge that is not necessarily needed, but used to make them unique. Breakdowns in pop-punk are a new element of sound explored by this band. Although not used as much on their debut album, it pops up on songs like ‘’Promises’’ and ‘’See You at the Top’’ while it is not an unbearable trait, it fortunately doesn’t sway the momentum of the song.
Oshie Bichar has a very good voice that suits the style of music perfectly. Album standout ‘’Jeremy’s Song’’ showcases Oshie at his best with some nice variation on his voice and the angst filled lyrics that deal with the tad generic subjects of love, lost, and redemption. ‘’You never paid me respect, l was never good enough for a second glance, l took it out on myself, but it wasn’t me who deserved all the blame, it was you who abandoned me’’ This lyric typifies what City Lights are about. A realisation of where your life is, and that blaming it on the right person is vital to moving on.
The instrumentation is nothing really special, but it does the job well. Guitarists Kamron Bradbury and Jeremy Smith both play some nice riffs, especially on highlight ‘’The Dark Side’’. Chase Clymer is a good bassist, who’s most memorable moment is on ‘’Mistakes’’ where his solo plays over distorted Oshie vocals, a really nice opening to a good song. Drummer Sean Smith is a good drummer with good timing and some interesting, enjoyable fills. His highlight is on ‘’Jeremy’s Song’’.
This album strongest trait is its variety. While some songs have noticeable similarities, towards the back end of the album you hear some darker songs all with a unique feel. Final song on the album ‘’Cold and Grey’’ starts off with acoustic guitar with Oshie singing of a person he did everything for, but got nothing in return. The lyrics as mentioned before are the most generic part about this album. While there are some really good lyrics, there are some dodgy ones. Leaving Here is easily the weakest song on the album and is very poor due to its lyrics. ‘’Tell my friends and family, I’m leaving here for good this time’’ It’s a song that has a bit of immaturity in its teenage type of problem. But that’s what pop-punk is all about; getting out and experiencing what the world has to offer, especially in summer with the sun, surf, and great weather.
City Lights have crafted a fun, mature, and at times dark pop-punk album, that includes enough variety for the listener. While it may not be for all, this band all about having a good time and songs you can shout at the top of your lungs during those summer months. This will be one of my soundtracks to my summer. Enjoy.