Life is a strange ride. Music is life at hyper speed. Ask White Lights, the Los Angeles based quintet that began in Boston as a quartet of college students that went by the name Riot! Riot! as a fusion of every member’s musical interests, and they’re sure to understand. Now, 3000 miles, a name change, and a few line-up changes later, White Lights have emerged as a group of strong, talented musicians that have lyrics that are poetry, music that is as eclectic as it is catchy, and an energy that is as undeniable as it is contagious.
You probably haven’t heard of them before, but, if “Ponzi Scheme” (the first single off of the upcoming EP, OROBOROS) proves anything else, it’s that you’ll be hearing that name quite a lot very soon. Like all good music, this song is enjoyable on multiple levels. First comes guitarist Shane Kennedy’s rapid fire guitar riff. Then front man Nabeel Afsar’s distinctive and beautiful voice crooning in a manner that’s sure to make the Kings Of Leon jealous as he sings “you paralyze and pounce/ parachute off rooftops / polarize the base/ divide and conquer”.
In this moment, you have what so many try to do, and what so few actually achieve – a feel good catchy melody mixed with poignant lyrics. You could enjoy this if Afsar were belting out the tune with no lyrics or if you were reading the lyrics without any music. But it’s when reading the lyrics that one discovers the true genius of this song – it’s political while remaining enjoyable to someone who doesn’t have the slightest interest in politics. Think U2 back in the early 90’s.
Once Afsar and Kennedy get us warmed up, it’s time for bassist Tyler Nicholas and drummer Mateo Vosganian to drive the steady rhythm. While they do that, keys player Jannette Bloom sprinkles atmospheric accents that push the level of emotion evoked directly in to the arena of driving at 80 mph with the top down, singing like a happy idiot at the top of your lungs. And the fact that one can be a happy idiot while singing along to “you neuter off your words / so they don’t mean a thing / crowds just keep on cheering / speech they’re used to hearing” is a testament not only to the band’s abilities but the universal nature of music as a whole.
Songs like this are why we listen to music in the first place – to experience the complex ray of emotions that we can’t experience through words alone. Check this gem out at myspace.com/killthewhitelights. There are other songs on their page that are also worth a listen – all of which will make your mouth water for the OROBOROS, which we will be reviewing when it becomes available on iTunes next month. Until then, listen to the MySpace tracks and check them out on whitelightsmusic.com as they will be in Heavy Rotation.