Caught in the Headlights
The Illinois trio Headlights rose from the ashes of Absinthe Blind to charm and delight with their debut album Kill Them With Kindness. Aptly named, given the positive and peaceful exploration of melodies. The indie rock outfit canâ€šÃ„Ã´t be pinned down to one sound, which should lend itself to unevenness and chaos, but instead crafts a diverse and pleasurable album.
The strings, pounding piano licks and whimsy of the first few opening tracks â€šÃ„ÃºYour Old Streetâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºTVâ€šÃ„Ã¹ evoke indie pop. The male/female vocal harmonizing is somewhat reminiscent of Belle and Sebastian. Midway through, songs such as â€šÃ„ÃºSongy Darkoâ€šÃ„Ã¹ move into shoegazer territory, but are inconvincingly dark due to the often rail-thin vocals of singer Erin Fein. Lyrical themes of feminine angst in the vein of Rilo Kiley emerge, yet lack the acerbic honesty of Jenny Lewis. Headlights are simply branded with a more polite and humble approach. Stellar tracks â€šÃ„ÃºWords Make You Tiredâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºHi-Ya!â€šÃ„Ã¹ have a Killers-esque pop, electronic gloss with heavy usage of keyboards and reverberated guitars. Closers like â€šÃ„ÃºSigns Point to Yes (But Outlook Not So Good)â€šÃ„Ã¹ are simply ethereal and warm.
Headlights have managed a splendid taste for every palate. It will be interesting to see if this fledgling band can create a recognizable musical viewpoint of their own. The vast landscape of influence indicates potential, but unlike the aforementioned predecessors, whom Headlights resemble, this album lacks the bite and distinction to make it a signal post of the time. In spite of this fact, it is by no means a deterrant from this album being an enjoyable listen.