Sound: There's something charming about that indie rock sound. In an industry where everything is about the video and the overall look, college and/or indie rock remains stripped down, unpretentious, and delivers lyrics that connect with audiences. Kansas City's Blackpool Lights stay true to the genre on their release This Town's Disaster, delivering a pleasing collection of laid-back rock tunes. While the album does has a collection of catchy, melodic tunes, it unfortunately never takes a huge enough leap to stand out from the rest of the indie rock pack.
The standout track on the album is Crash Sounds, a ballad that actually more basic than the rest of the other songs. It starts off very basically in the verse, but when the chorus arrives, the emotion explodes out of the speaker. The contrast from the quietly sung verse (which has a beautiful harmony over it that almost has a Wilco feel) and the powerful chorus makes the song memorable. With a little more seasoning, Black Pool Lights (vocalist/guitarist Jim Suptic, lead guitarist J.D. Warnock, bassist Brian Everard, and drummer Billy Brimblecom Jr.) absolutely have the potential to create a lot more moments that stand out within their songs.
While Lost Without You is not one of the best tracks on the CD, but there is a driving guitar rhythm during the verse that sounds a lot like something U2's The Edge might concoct. While that guitar part is not featured all that long in the song, it was refreshing to hear a little something not expected. Guitarist Warnock should be given credit for always inserting melodic guitar riffs within Blackpool Lights' songs, which allow the songs to have a bit more life than a simple chord-driven song. The highlight of Lost Without You actually does not occur until the close when Warnock unveil a melodic and inspired riff.
The band proves that it does have the ability to write some quality songs, but there is not enough about the band's music on This Town's Disaster to stand out from the pack of indie bands for the time being. If the band can think a bit outside the box, it will likely be able to attract plenty of kids' attention in the future. // 7
Lyrics: The themes of many of the songs on This Town's Disaster will likely strike a chord with younger listeners who have plenty of questions about life. The introspective approach might seem a predictable choice for an indie band, but Blackpool Lights does show their biggest strength though their words.
In The Truth About Love, the band explores the bittersweet game of loving from a woman's perspective that is likely to connect with more than just younger kids. Suptic sings, Here car smells of cologne; And the dreams that she sold; For a chance at a life; In the arms of a guy; Who was never gonna be there. The honest nature of the lyrics goes much further than some emo songs and provides listeners with vivid images to go along with the tune.
The song It's Never About What It's About actually was inspired by a chat the band had about their arguments with women -- claiming the topic of the fights are never what it's about. Suptic sings, We kept the downstairs neighbors up till three; With your complaints of my mediocrity; The time I've wasted on you my dear; It was just another year. The complaint that inspired the title of the song is likely to hit home with plenty of men, and even women will probably find plenty of humor and/or truth in the lyrics. // 9
Overall Impression: Blackpool Lights' rock sound on This Town's Disaster is one that does have potential, particularly when you listen to the harmonies and the guitar parts that pop up on the record. While most of the songs don't jump out at you like other bands' tracks might, they might have a greater appeal after taking time to listen to the inspired lyrics.
Probably the best feature of the release is one you'll only get by popping the CD into your computer. Upon inserting it, you'll immediately be taken to a This Town's Disaster Secret Site, which features song explanation, bonus demos, and a video for Blue Skies. This added bonus does show the band has already started thinking outside of the box and plenty of listeners are likely to take a closer look at the band in the long run. // 8