Wild Light: Adult Nights

Not many rock bands come out of New Hampshire – and even fewer manage to score deals with labels as major as Sony – so it’s hard not to root for Wild Light on principle alone; unfortunately, principle may be all that gets you through chunks of Adult Nights, the quartet’s full-length debut. The band has an interesting sound that wobbles between Semisonic and Arcade Fire – and the latter comparison is one you’re likely to hear more than once, given that keyboard player Tim Kile was in an early version of that band – but they need better material. Nights lets you know they’ve got the chops – opener “California on My Mind” kicks things off right, with its harmonica, stomping beat, and repeated refrain of “fuck California,” and “Call Home” is a lovely piano-led ballad that recalls Dan Wilson before he gave in to his Carole King fetish – but those high points only serve to underscore just how ordinary the rest of the disc can be. There aren’t any bad songs here, but there are a lot of well-meaning musical exercises in search of hooks, not to mention varying tempos – much of Adult Nights glides by at the same middling pace. If we were living in a different era, it wouldn’t be out of the question to hope Wild Light’s A&R rep stuck with the label long enough to shepherd the band through a few more albums until they were ready for their big break. Those days are long gone, unfortunately, but if they get lucky enough to reach a broad audience with Adult Nights, it also isn’t out of the question to imagine that this band could develop into something really special. (Columbia/StarTime International 2009)

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