Most times when a band is introduced to you as the “new project from So & So from Band X” it’s hard to not make mental comparisons if no other descriptors are given to you. Jesse Michaels, Blake Schwarzenbach, Jeff Rosenstock… All artists whose former glories will likely follow them to any future musical endeavors, whether it winds up being accurate or not (Go see if there are any Common Rider or Classics of Love reviews that don’t mention Operation Ivy, or if many reviewers can talk about Jets to Brazil or forgetters. without bringing up Jawbreaker) (Okay, in Rosenstock’s case, it’s easy to compare their new project to their previous one).
This brings us to Seattle’s Four Lights, fronted by former Success guitarist Dan Gardner. Although Gardner may not be a punk-household name like Michaels or Rosenstock, Success made a pretty big splash with last year’s Radio Recovery before hitting the road with the likes of Millencolin and 7Seconds. So to hear that he has a new group, it’s understandable to wonder just how similar they sound to his former band.
Turns out that they are similar, but only in the same way that bands like Western Settings, Dear Landlord, or even The Wonder Years are similar. There’s a catchiness to the melodies that is undeniably pop punk, but there’s still enough grit in the music to keep it punk. The lyrics are full of regret, both when it comes to love (“You say you love me but you don’t know my name” Gardner laments in “Whiskey Woahs” while the title track’s chorus goes “I don’t wanna change the world / I’m just looking for a way to get the girl”) (Oh hey, and the title track has none other than members of long-running punk band Bracket providing backing vocals) and life (the chorus of the opening track “Self-Medicated,” hits hard in particular: “I don’t know who I’m supposed to be because who I am ain’t working for me”). And yet, the album never really feels full of despair, and it’s more focused on solving or moving past the remorse without ever getting preachy about conquering sadness like other posi-punk bands.
As one might expect from experienced players in the punk scene, Four Lights have avoided the usual mistakes of a band that hasn’t even been together for a year (at least if their social media presence is any indication, they haven’t been together for a full year yet) and the end result is an enjoyable debut LP that sounds more like a second or third album. Four Lights and Death to False Posi are more than just an extension of what came before; they’re the start of a whole new chapter.
4 / 5 – Stream it below.
RIYL: Broadway Calls, Bracket, The Rentals