Review Summary: A burning chunk of mass destruction
On their debut record, Capital Lights proved one thing: they could craft fun, energetic pop punk with hard rock/post-grunge and electronica nuances, and they could do it very well. Indeed, This Is An Outrage
was fun enough to be loved and enjoyable, but also fulfilling enough to have staying power, and thus be one of the most formidable records of its genre. Strangely after that release, Capital Lights almost broke up. However, they decided to stick around, and release one final album, entitled Rhythm and Moves
. Sadly, Rhythm and Moves
takes all the elements you loved from the first album, and wholly gets rid of them.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the record still bleeds of the infectious energy that the first album did. Capital Lights are still interested in having fun, so overly pretentious attempts won’t be found here. However, here’s the problem. That same fun quality that worked so well on Outrage
is overdone here, and it screams more “cash grab” than “work ethic.” Whereas the previous record relied on a good blend of passionate vocals, E-tuned power chords, and slight electronica, here the once-relied on guitars are replaced by annoying electronics, and Bryson’s once organic voice is autotuned to the point of shame. It’s almost like Capital Lights thought “Let’s mess with our old fans and release a less-than-quality sophomore record, because it’s our last album anyways.” In comparison, remember Reliant K’s Forget And Not Slow Down
, and the hype that it was their best record yet? Remember the mediocre follow-up Collapsible Lung
? This is exactly like that: Capital Lights released an incredibly strong record, lost their direction, and came out with a highly mediocre album.
However, that’s not to say all hope is lost. The title track still has the classic Capital Lights formula: catchy chorus, guitar-driven structure, and strong yet strangely sweet vocals from Bryson Philipps. It’s slightly poppier than anything off Outrage
, but it’s the most substantial track all record. And yes, it also contains the band’s penchant for clever wordplay. “Let Your Hair Down” practically relies on acoustic guitar and Bryson’s strong vocals in the chorus, and the electronica elements actually work, similar to “Mile Away.” However, a song like “Caroline” is highly annoying, with it’s stupid lyrics, autotuned vocal delivery, and reliance entirely on dubstep elements. It sounds like a recent Manic Drive/Young London b-side, and it doesn’t work for Capital Lights. Though “Coldfront Heatstroke” brings back a more organic sound with a slight country influence and reliance on acoustic/distorted guitar and drums, “Newport Party” drags the listener back down sounding exactly like a Lady Gaga b-side, which again doesn’t work for Lights. “Honey Don’t Jump” may be the second prime track all record, because Bryson sounds great without autotune, and both guitarists are back in full force. “Don’t Drop Dead Juliet” relies on a similar formula and is another strong latter track.
Lyrically, Capital Lights veer between their classic clever wordplay and stupidity. While a line like “she walks the line while I sink in quicksand” flows well and sounds thought-out, something like “oh Caroline, she’s my type of girl” falls flat. Final track and token ballad “Gotta Have Love” isn’t near as potent or strong as “Return” or “Mile Away” from Outrage
, and it’s Sunday school-esque lyrics about the love of God come off as bubblegum gunk , like a bad Owl City experiment.
Four years went into this record. It’s ridiculous that a band that once had a great deal of talent and potential decided to go out like this, and rather than go down in a blaze of glory, they went down as a burning chunk of mass destruction, murdering former fans of the group. Skip out on Rhythm and Moves