Monday, August 21, 2006

Pitchfork Reviews Headlights "Kill Them With Kindness"

Indie music's homepage,, has a review of the soon to be released Headlights album, "Kill Them With Kindness." Here's what they have to say:

Headlights "Kill Them With Kindness"
Rating 6.7

The Headlights' debut full-length begins strong with "Your Old Street": A lush string arrangement sets the mood, a thumping bass and wash of cymbals gather volume and tension, and vocalists Erin Fein and Tristan Wright sketch out the verse's melancholy melody. From there, "Your Old Street" shifts gears, transforming into an upbeat pop number with vibes twinkling over bubbly keys, completing the most intricate arrangement on Kill Them With Kindness. Sadly, the rest of the album fails to live up to that song's promise.

On one hand, such eclecticism makes for a rich album, as the band slips from sunny, straightforward pop into slower, less immediate material. There's a wealth of ideas between Fein and Wright-- the bouncy "TV" rubs elbows with the skewered rhythms and organ drone of "Songy Darko"-- but over the course of the album's 14 songs, the diversity undermines any sense of coherence. Instead of a singular aesthetic, Kill Them With Kindness splinters into genre exercises and referential production values. It's all too easy to hear Grandaddy in the slow, melodic building and arpeggiator flourishes of the outro to "Signs Point To Yes (But Outlook Not So Good)". And it sounds like the band had the New Pornographers stuck in their heads when the recorded the saccharine harmonies and predictable hooks of "Lions". Likewise, "Pity City" is every bit the emo anthem its title suggests. As Wright whines that he's "just a stupid boy who falls apart," it borders on parody.

When Kill Them With Kindness works it's because of Fein and Wright's keen attention to melody and the way their voices complement one another and inject these songs with warmth and emotion. Unfortunately, Kill Them With Kindness never follows the statement of purpose that opener "Your Old Street" assuredly outlines. Instead, the songs on Headlights' debut seem pulled in too many directions, often recalling the work of more accomplished indie rock contemporaries but rarely distinguishing the group itself.

-John Motley, August 21, 2006

Not a total slam, but not altogether complimentary, either. I have enjoyed the new songs at the recent shows and will definitely buy the album, which will be available tomorrow at Exile on Main St. I'm curious to see how others in and outside of the CU realm respond to this record. Feel free to comment with your thoughts on the album, on this review, or with links to other reviews for it.


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