The Bright Lights Of America Review

artist: Anti-Flag date: 01/22/2009 category: compact discs
Anti-Flag: The Bright Lights Of America
Release Date: Mar 25, 2008
Label: RCA Victor Europe
Genres: Punk Revival, Hardcore Punk
Number Of Tracks: 12
The sound and stance of this album will shatter all expectations about Anti-Flag.
 Sound: 5.8
 Lyrics: 7.5
 Overall Impression: 5.5
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reviews (4) 30 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.3
The Bright Lights Of America Reviewed by: Vegard, on may 07, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: How to describe the sound on this album? It's about as perfect as it gets. That, however, is not necessarily good news. The band has also added a lot of sound-effects to their music, making it sound less punk than what many would have expected. It's isn't all bad however, for example the children choir used in the song "Good and Ready" (it might be a cliche, but it touched me anyway) and the perfectionism, no matter if it pushes the punkish sound a little bit in the background, makes the bands messages more clear than ever. Another thing I noticed about this album is the lenght of all the songs. Almost every song are more than 3 minutes long, which would have been a good thing if they were a bit innovative. When they mostly sound the same all the way through, however, it just gets boring. // 6

Lyrics: The Lyrics are as good as ever. Maybe even better. Issues of war (of course), the environment, the beauty hystery, death penalty and our (the grown up populations) responsibility to take care of the world we are supposed to hand over to our children. What about the vocals then? Well, they sound about the same as they always have. Which is exellent, since both Justin Sanes complaining and angst-filled vocals and Chris #2's more angry voice are perfect at getting their message through. This is an angry record demaning change, bothing when it comes to lyrics and the sound. // 10

Overall Impression: Anti-Flag has been active for quite a few years now, and produces a lot of great records. The Bright Lights of America is another good record, but compared to Underground Network and The Terror State it doesn't really have much to offer. Some songs, however, makes the album worthwile: The Bright Lights of America (which is also the title of the album); a song about how much pain and insecureness the beauty hystery can bring is a pretty good, straight foreward punkrock song. Vices is also pretty good, though not good enough to really stand out. The Modern Rome Burning is one of the best songs of the album, and the most typical Anti-Flag song in my opinion. If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How to Lie) is anoter awesome song, actually one of the bands best of all times. And, finally, we got The Smartest Bomb, which is the most angry, most punkish song of the album. Awesome. Then again, there are some bad songs as well. Good Ready (exept for the part with the children choir), No Warning and Go West are all terrible songs, which also are way to long. All in all, the album is worth picking up for anyone who is already a fan of the band. If you aren't however, it is better to go for Underground Network or The Terror State instead. // 6

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overall: 7.3
The Bright Lights Of America Reviewed by: A6StringWorld, on april 23, 2008
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Anti-Flags new album "The Bright Lights Of America" was a disappointment for long time fans of Anti-Flag but still put up good sound and the music complemented by excellent song writing as usual. The album is well recorded with no recording errors but lacks the old school Anti-Flag feel, long time listeners will also notice the progressive change in their style since the "Die for the Government" days up until now. If you listen to all these albums continually, a change can hardly be heard aside to the increasingly good recording quality but the fast pace, straight up punk energy seems to be decreasing ever since the band went major label. Anti-Flags song-writing thankfully hasn't changed and they are still the politically charged punk rock band we all know and love, but the bands sound and style is getting more mainstream and this album looses the feeling that Anti-Flag once had of fast past chord progressions and screaming riffs. This was the Anti-Flag that once played underground punk shows that let the fans dance and sing on stage with them, now the band is selling out stadiums and a good 50 percent of these songs on the album are more chunky and slow and feel less energized. Don't get me wrong, these songs aren't bad, in fact they are quite enjoyable, Anti-Flag almost seems to be forgetting their roots and what they used to be like though. Although the sound on this album is different then most of the old albums, it carries a lot of the same characteristics of "For Blood and Empire" and combines vocals and instruments in harmony creating a overall decent sound. The musical side of this album is extremely well written and all the songs mesh together well and all voice an opinion while giving a very entertaining song. None of the songs are too much alike which is great considering most bands struggle with this category. Even though I fear Anti-Flag maybe getting sucked into the mainstream music industry that rips apart punk rock bands, they still produced an excellent album with catchy tunes that will suck any listener in. // 7

Lyrics: This category of "The Bright Lights of America" deserved a near perfect 10 for the lyrical side of the album. As usual, Anti-Flag's lyrics are sculpted beautifully and all tell an individual story and voice a complaint about today's society in America. The song writing is well done, so complex and advanced they may not be understand by few besides the writer which in my opinion is something that is hard to do without writing a song about complete randomness. Justin Sane and Chris #2 both sing impressively together and simultaneously yell parts of the song and their voices get across the song very well. This albums lyrics and vocals were as great as always and the band consistently puts up a good vocal side to every album. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall, Anti-Flag did a decent job with this album, I had to give it a six because of the disappointing sound and the lack of the fast past punk rock but the lyrics, song writing, and overall sound pulled this album together making it worth your money. This album still ranks fairly low in all of Anti-Flags albums so I would suggest buying "The Terror State" or "Mobilize" over this album but still has great music, just not as straight forward punk rock as others. Also, Anti-Flag has recently done a great job on slower acoustic songs and I have been very impressed the song-writing and work that went into "Tar and Sagebrush" on this album and "One Trillion Dollars" on "For Blood and Empire". 70% of the songs on this album will impress you and 3 or 4 songs such as "Smartest Bomb" will remind you of past Anti-Flag albums and has a great guitar riff in the beginning. Well done Anti-Flag, not your best effort in my eyes, but the band still pulled it together. // 6

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overall: 1
The Bright Lights Of America Reviewed by: Jau_Peacecraft, on april 24, 2008
1 of 6 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album, with the hypocritical stamp of RCA (major labels are not necessarily bad, but they are counter to what Anti-Flag supposedly preaches), holds a hollow sound that has confirmed the fate of Anti-Flag as a musical product, not a musical band. It saddens me most, as I had many grand memories tied to my teenage angst whilst listening to Die For The Government, Underground Network (essentially everything they made before The Terror State, which was a slight stumble, but the actual last true anti-flag album compared to the RCA output). "Angry Young & Poor", "Mobilize", "Die For Your Government", "Culture Revolution"; these are Anti-Flag at their best, and this album does a disservice to any remaining hardcore fans who listen to their albums, release after release, expecting at the very least, efforts towards quality that would be comparable to their previous works. For Blood & Empire had that effort, as did The Terror State; this album doesn't at all. Anti-Flag should publicly apologize to their fans, who have supported them, and promise to actually care in any possible future albums. The only redeeming sound in this entire album are the bass lines, which are sadly muddied down a bit due to a terrible attempt at making Anti-Flag sound "grand" & "versatile". These riffs are generic, arena-rock tinged trash, the tempos are (mostly) tortuously slow for punk, the drums sound automatic & lazy, and the vocals sound well, like Justin Sane in the previous albums, only with what is supposed to pass as "melodic whining. I almost felt like downing a 32 pack of Keystone (yes, Keystone in specific) in an effort to kill the memory cells associated with my listening experience. The average track length is an uncharacteristic 3 1/2 minutes, which used to be 2 Anti-Flag songs with 4 times the amount of work put in them, and if you want to sample how truly terrible this album is, look no further then these three tracks: "Good and Ready", "If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How To Lie)", and *especially* "Go West"; this track is actually *worse* than One Trillion Dollars, since it has the entire band making terrible music, and not just Justin & his acoustic "gitar". // 1

Lyrics: Anti-Flag hasn't done anything different on this latest album, at leas, nothing different that helps contribtute to the making of a 'good' album. They still bitch and moan about the same, vauge problems & protests of government, politicians, capitalism (despite signing to a major label) that they've done since their first album. The lyrics really speak for themselves here, with the following as an example which seems to pass for "insight" & and poetry for "punk-rock" nowadays (with obvious exceptions; not all punk bands are pandering to the post-music video Reality TV MTV celebrity worship generation): "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." I wrote more insightful comments in my 9th grade english class. Anti-Flag seem to still be trapped in this post-911, Bush hating tirade that almost every punk band jumped on the bandwagon for at least one album since it was an easy, & more than welcome target at some point (Pennywise's last decent album, From The Ashes, the slightly risky & topical but interesting experimentation of Bad Religion's The Empire Strikes First, NOFX's now in hindsight an embarrassment, "The War on Errorism"). Yes, Bush sucks, the world is ending, politicians are taking advantage of us, blah blah blah; it's been pounded in our heads time & time again. It's not 2001 anymore, it's 2008, please, deal with it & move on. The least they could've done was change their topics; instead, it sounds as if they based their songs on generic poems while trying to sound like wistful musicians who no longer recognize the world. In reality, they are the ones who cannot recognize themselves anymore. There are hints of the old anti-flag somewhere in this album, in possibly one or two songs (the only song sounding remotely interesting being "the Smartest bomb", which reminds one of a much better song, "Got The Numbers"), but otherwise, this is anti-flag in name only. I have yet to hear the bonus tracks, and I have some hidden hope that they simply made a lot more bad choices in the tracklisting than a better album would've allowed, but at this point, I'm not holding my breath. // 1

Overall Impression: Anti-Flag's true sound was not intelligent, it was slightly clever hardcore punk that played fast & didn't compromise. If I was convinced Justin Sane, at this point, should consider his tired vocals while considering changing his name to Just Inane, was the sole cause of this change, I would fully advocate a public spanking for the terrible album this band has produced. This really the worst I've listened to since the newest Avril Lavigne album (with any new reggaton being a close 2nd). If you must listen to any new output by the band, go for "For Blood & Empire"; while much poppier than their previous albums, it still retained (excluding the terrible moaning Justin Sane did on the pseudo-sap one trillion dollars) their penchant for fast paced protest songs, which for the most part, did not overtly repeat themselves. Otherwise, just take all their older albums, throw in some of the good live bootlegs (what little there is), and make custom playlists since this band has run out of ideas. You may not agree with my review, and in fact hate it, but I post this review in face of the overtly beaming and non-critical reviews that would encourage a band that they are releasing good music. In final, this is what "The New America" could've been for Bad Religion: a career ender. I desperately hope the band listens to outside perceptions of this album, in an effort to rediscover what made them great, which can found in any albums, even the pop-saturated For Blood & Empire, previous to The Bright Lights of America. And no, I would not buy this, at all, so would be no chances of it being stolen. I would've given this section a 2 or a 3, since I did like one single song & haven't heard the bonus tracks (not sure if I'll say "yet", either), but then I saw the album cover again, which looks almost as ridiculous as this album sounds. Best track: The Smartest Bomb. Worst Track: Everything Else. // 1

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overall: 9.3
The Bright Lights Of America Reviewed by: aFlag6969696969, on january 22, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: First off, I LIKED (triple double underline in red print) this record, so if you don't like me for that and aren't even gonna read the review, email me PLEASE. I liked how AF experimented a little bit more on this album musically. Sure, it was hit-and-miss, but I don't see too many punk bands play the harmonic as confidently as Anti-Flag. The other thing that surprised me about this album was the inclusion of sound effects and a more epic feel to the whole album (especially on Modern Rome Burning and The Ink And The Quill). The bass lines still kick @$$ and Justin still whines (more in tune though) about America and War and all that fun stuff, and Chris still sings like Mark Lanegan on (more) drugs (than usual). I think it was important for Anti Flag to try and change up their songs. Their other stuff rocked, but you can't ignore how totally awesome this album's guitar solos are. And just because they don't sound like the band you want them to be, remember you could be saving a child's life or (for the more materialistic people), making money instead of crying about how Anti Flag doesn't sound like the same band they were 12 years ago. Boo hoo, look what a change in musical style after a decade did for the Chili Peppers. The would still be an underground (and not so good) funk band. They experimented on BSSM and now look at them. Pretty sweet. They might be on a bigger record label, but that doesn't mean they have destroyed their message. They can get it out to more people over the radio. I will agree that Go West is a terrible song though. // 9

Lyrics: As on every AF album, the lyrics are great. War, capitalism, a distorted image of beauty, what else could you ask for. The ink and Quill has by far the best lyrics on the album, but remember, if Bush hadn't handled Katrina better, the song probably wouldn't exist. But then maybe he wouldn't have so much blood on his hands. The only slightly annoying thing about the vocals is when Justin's voice squeaks a little too much. Not very often, so it's ok. // 10

Overall Impression: I think that Anti Flag is headed in a positive direction. This has to be one of my top five favorite albums (but Songs for the Deaf is hard to beat), and one of AF's best ever. If it were stolen, I would find the culpurt and sue him or her 5 billion dollars. // 9

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