headlights wildlife
  • WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2009

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Communication is an ambitious, ambiguous and lofty subject for a quaint sounding, charming pop band to tackle, but Headlights dive right into the muck and thoroughly explore the various nuances of our stupid human nature. Dubbed Wildlife, perhaps for obvious reasons (we are one big crazy jungle out there), the new album from the successful Illinois trio is poignant and pretty without the pretense of the "art-pop" world; a surprising balance.

That doesn't mean they don't adapt some basic art-pop techniques (in the best of ways, of course). Some of the sonic efforts are channeled into a glaze; a strong coating of lo-fi on the otherwise polished pop consortium. The discussion between musician and listener seems like it is mostly over telephone, or feels like it.. we, as listeners, are one step disconnected from what Headlights are trying to say on the other end of the line. But they may have intended to let the interference twist whatever intention existed, in order to let us play with our own thoughts while listening. That could be why even though some of the words are inaudible, I am singing along. That could also be why Headlights might put me to sleep at night feeling lonely.

In my mind some of these songs are just the opposite of each other. The sprightly, sticky "Secrets," for example, propels recklessly forward with a pretty generous hook, while equally as good yet fundamentally different "Telephones" churns in anticipation for the band to get going. While "Telephones" seems concerned with getting back home, to the past or something, "Secrets" seems to psychoanalyze a trip to a hospital to visit a loved one, and the two stories seem a bit disjointed. Do we have two narratives going on at once? Are they related? Then again, "Secrets" sounds like a plea from a child to an adult for a story, which could fit the desired regression. They both sound like the beginning of a record which then doubles back on itself, obscuring any set direction in the haze.

But I think I am just over analyzing, because these guys have said in numerous interviews they don't work on "concepts" or "themes." The cool thing about just kind of writing songs until you have enough for an album is the thread between them is totally subconscious. I think that door swings both ways on Wildlife; we're both overwhelmed and underwhelmed by the perceived unity of the tracks. But that kind of works when you think about how people interact with each other and feel, much like the family/friends/love relationships explored and dissected on each track. Feelings are feelings, and they often make little to no sense when put in context. Lets face it;
Wildlife is a forty minute visceral dissertation on the implications of our relationships, and how to keep interpersonal relationships alive through the passage of time. Would you rather read that sentence, or listen to this record? I thought so.-joe puglisi

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