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Sweet Release

The Flashing Lights

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Album Review

The second full-length from the Flashing Lights finds the band expanding the sound they experimented with on their Elevature EP. Like that EP, Sweet Release is a bit more laid-back than the engaging pop/rock found on Where the Change Is. For that reason, it may take Flashing Lights fans — or Super Friendz fans, lead singer Matt Murphy's former indie pop/rock outfit — several listens to fully enjoy Sweet Release. That said, the Lights experiment with their influences — Television, the Kinks, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the MC5 — while keeping some of their crisp pop/rock sound. Bluesy jams, hard rock guitar riffs, and blues organ were hinted at on Where the Change Is, but here the band relaxes and expands these sounds for a fun, captivating listen. "Same Thing Twice" uses an overtired lyric ("Tonight, tonight") and makes it fresh, while its T. Rex and Sweet vibe only adds to the song's appeal. "Too Delightful" dabbles in garage rock, and "It's Alright" is a good-time romp with an extended jam. The standout track is "Friends You Learn to Hate" — its lush, genuine energy is quintessential Lights. The album falters a bit on some tracks that don't have as much steam — the quirky "Keep It to Yourself" takes the worst of Wings and adds over-emoting for a "Seasons in the Sun" sense of doom. But the Flashing Lights obviously love what they do, and their infectious enthusiasm and fondness for smooth pop harmonies make up for any unevenness found on Sweet Release. [The album was co-produced by Ian McGettigan, formerly of Thrush Hermit.]

Biography

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Flashing Lights first started as a '60s cover band that played around Halifax when guitarist/vocalist Matt Murphy wasn't busy with his primary band, the Super Friendz. After the Friendz disbanded in 1997, Murphy moved to Toronto with longtime friend and bassist Henri Sangalang, and the two soon added keyboardist Gaven Dianda and drummer Steve Pitkin to the Lights' lineup. The group focused on the '60s sound and influences like the Kinks, Game Theory, and the Who. The band played locally, building...
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Sweet Release, The Flashing Lights
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