Headlights – Wildlife

October 15, 2009

headlightswildlifeI don’t think there’s any doubt that Champaign, Illinois based band Headlights ranks as one of the finest emerging American indie rock bands going. Their third album, Wildlife, further solidifies their standing, striking just the right balance between the guitar based indie rock of their first record and the dream pop of their second. Erin Fein and Tristan Wraight once again trade off vocals, amid music that’s often densely layered, atmospheric and melancholic. (More buoyant sounding songs like “Secrets,” “Get Going” and “I Don’t Mind At All” provide counterweight to that last quality.) There’s also a notable lyrical maturity that permeates the entire record, but especially evident on songs like “Love Song For Buddy,” “We’re All Animals” and the haunting “Slow Down Town.” It’s hard to imagine them delivering a more satisfying record than this one, one that keeps getting more beautiful and complex the more one listens to it. Standout cuts: “Secrets,” “Get Going,” “I Don’t Mind At All” and “Slow Down Town.”



headlightssomeracingChampaign, Illinois band Headlights try out some dream pop for their second LP, Some Racing, Some Stopping, setting aside the guitar based indie rock that largely characterized their debut. The results fall somewhere between early Rilo Kiley and Julee Cruise’s first album, that is, sweetness mixed with moodiness, with lush, richly atmospheric production. There are even echoes of Simon and Garfunkel to be heard here (or later Elliott Smith, dependent on your musical reference points). Erin Fein, who sang the majority of the songs on the last album, trades off vocals more evenly with bandmate Tristan Wraight, with good results, as they both have appealing voices, and sound great when they harmonize together. Hearing Headlights go in this direction may throw some fans they garnered on their first album, but it’s not so radical a change that you can’t tell who the band is anymore, and aside from that, it’s a creative way to avoid a sophomore slump while expanding and pushing the boundaries of their musical chops at the same time. All this to say, Headlights fans are going to in for a surprise when they hear this album, though I think it’s going to be a good one, and for all other listeners, well it’s just good music. Standout cuts: “Cherry Tulips,” “Market Girl,” “Some Racing, Some Stopping” and “Towers.”