Seismic by SpotlightsRelease date: October 6, 2017
Lets say you took My Bloody Valentine, added a bit of Gish-era Smashing Pumpkin, sledgehammered it with Godflesh and then topped the remainder with a twist of Tangerine Dream, you would have New York’s Spotlights. However, the net result of all this crossbreeding is a new hybrid animal. Its own thing, a unique product that stands apart and pushes hard at genre boundaries. The band, husband a wife duo Mario and Sarah Quintero, make music as heavy as any sludge metal band, but via airy vocals and melody-driven arrangements, retain a measure of pop-level accessibility. My wife hates metal. She likes Spotlights.
The band’s second full length album, Seismic, is an ambitious effort that incorporates more of…well, pretty much everything. It clocks in at 1:04 hours, so the listener gets their money’s worth to be sure. The band released their first album Tidals in spring of 2016. It was one of my favorite records of last year and It was strange not to see it on more top 10 lists, which I can only attribute to not enough people hearing it. The record was very dark, very heavy, but absolutely beautiful. Nine months later they released Spiders, an EP that saw the band shift slightly towards a popier, synthier sound.
To be honest I didn’t love that EP, but couldn’t fault the band for trying to reach a wider audience. Seismic is a good blend of the two. It is certainly more melodic and there is more liberal use of synthy themes than Tidals, but it is still a very heavy record. It also incorporates a lot more experimentation and seems to breath better with the band seemingly exercising more patience in song development. The band has always really good at blending electronic drones and chimes over and under heavy guitar and bass riffs, but here they really seem to perfect the technique and it is much more liberally applied.
One thing that’s notable about the band is their ability to produce consistently high quality material despite a very heavy touring schedule (they were on tour with the Melvins for much of the summer and did tours with the Deftones and If these Trees Could Talk before that). There is sometimes a diminution in quality between releases if a band does them too quickly. That is not the case here at all. Despite how prolific they’ve been over the past 18 months, Seismic does not feel rushed. In fact, if anything it’s a bit chubby with ideas. If there is any criticism to be had it’s that the ambition in scope, the number of ideas tested, could have been edited down to essentials if the band wanted to reach a more pop audience. That said, I like experimental music, I like long songs, and I like musical audacity, so I’m pretty happy with the album as is.
My favorite tracks are ‘The Opening’, which is probably the friendliest track on the record and ‘Hollow Bones’, a long sprawling dirge where the listener gets to hear what Mario can really do with a guitar. That said, there aren’t really any bad songs on record. Again, the consistency is remarkable.
Overall, it’s a great record, so buy it.