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The Florida scene sometimes seems to go under the radar, the common perception arguably that California and the North East of the US are the American hotbeds for punk or hardcore. Some of the biggest names in Florida punk include Against Me!, Less Than Jake and Evergreen Terrace just to name a few. One of my favourite hardcore bands of recent years Kids Like Us are another gem that’s emerged from the Sunshine State. Relative newcomers Nightlights prove that Florida still holds it down for good punk and hardcore, their debut EP “Long Way Home” proving them to be an exciting band on the rise.
Jumping on the 90s emo/pop punk revival bandwagon that’s emerged lately with a bunch of great bands like Daylight and Balance and Composure, Nightlights have managed to forge their own signature sound. “Long Way Home” has been released on Florida-based Anchorless Records, previously home to a bunch of good bands including Make Or Break and No Harm Done. This release is nothing groundbreaking but its undeniably well-written pop punk, taking cues from 1990s emo and pop punk like Hot Water Music and The Starting Line. The vocals are of an excellent standard, avoiding an annoying overly nasal sound, rather opting for a satisfying mix of melodic and slightly edgier punk rock vocals similar to Title Fight or Daylight.
The opener “Ghost Town” is a re-recorded version of the song featured on the band’s 2009 demo. It’s a solid number, as you may have guessed, about wanting to get away from home. It features melodic guitar musings, and passionate vocals combining more melodic singing and angsty shouting. The second track “Are You The Keymaster?”, another song from their demo, is a deeply melodic pop punk anthem which features resonant chords and pleasant vocals. I love the beginning which transitions from a slow riff sounding like something by Sunny Day Real Estate to a more upbeat riff more influenced by contemporary hardcore.
“Bluffington” is arguably the best track on the release, a song which is reminiscent of all the pop punk classics. It features catchy Blink 182 styled palm-muting coupled with Lifetime-esque energy and emotion, making it an awesome specimen of the genre. The highlight of “One Of These Days” comes toward the end of the song, with a catchy picked guitar riff repeating over awesome sing-along gang vocals. The last song “Buzz, Your Girlfriend, Woof!” is again quite upbeat, featuring punchy drums and soaring guitars throughout before the slower climax of the song.
“Long Way Home” is a promising release from an exciting band. Heartfelt and catchy, Nightlights manage to avoid the typical style of glossy, nasal pop punk in favour of more understated emotional tunes. The lyrical content becomes slightly repetitive with its emphasis upon hating their hometown, however it’s pulled off with style and ultimately doesn’t seem at all contrived. Together with the quality song-writing, “Long Way Home” is a great CD well worth a few listens.
1. Ghost Town
2. Are You The Keymaster?
4. One Of These Days
6. Buzz, Your Girlfriend, Woof!