The Bright Lights Of America

Written by: PP on 21/04/2008 04:01:57

I\'ve been listening to a lot of Anti-Flag lately as a result of my re-discovery of their entire seven album strong discography (before this one, that is), and it\'s easy to see how the band has changed over the years. They\'ve gone from the unproduced high-speed underground punk rock to better produced high-speed punk rock, and lately their songs have been going toward more of a stadium rock approach, presumably because the band are playing pretty massive venues these days on their tours. I\'ve personally enjoyed all stages of their evolution except for \"For Blood And Empire\", mostly because that album had a couple of songs that didn\'t live up to the band\'s usual standards in my opinion. I\'m glad then, that the band has found their form again on \"The Bright Lights Of America\", which is a great album overall, although it might not quite be \"The Terror State\" or \"A New Kind Of Army\".

Album opener \"Good And Ready\" gives a good taster of things to come on the record. Big sound, big riffs, big choruses, lots of gang vocals and a medium-tempo - I can see where the band is going for by placing it as the first song on the album, but it\'s a weird choice as it\'s one of the weaker tracks on the album. The title track would\'ve been a much better choice, given it\'s much more melodic sound, high-octane guitars and an amazing chorus that\'ll have you singing along en masse when it comes to seeing these guys live. \"Vices\" has its moments every now and then but the dramatic gang-shout chorus isn\'t my cup of tea. \"The Modern Rome Burning\" continues the decent/great alternation and is a quintessential Anti-Flag track, with a fast beat and melancholic dual-vocals all over the chorus. It even has some parts that sound like old school Against Me! from the \"Reinventing Axl Rose\"-era.

\"If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How To Lie)\" and \"No Warning\" both throw more gang vocals in than we\'ve ever heard on a Anti-Flag record before. They\'re also surprisingly aggressive for a major-label, thus making them slightly more inaccessible, but once you get into them they are great tracks. \"Spit In The Face\", the most aggressive and fastest track on the album, is like straight from \"Die For The Government\", only with better production and improved vocals, making it easily one of the best tracks on the album. It also makes you kinda miss the days when Anti-Flag was more straight-forward punk rock like this song, but what the heck. \"The Smartest Bomb\" is another one for the oldschoolers at least if you consider it\'s high speed melodic hook assault, making one wonder why the CD is shaped as it is - the vast majority of the really good songs are in the latter half (and even the latter third) of the album, potentially turning many fans away who only tend to listen to the first five tracks on an album. I guess that would explain a lot of the negative reviews across the net, because other than the title track and \"The Modern Rome Burning\", the beginning of the album is plagued by many of the same problems as \"For Blood And Empire\": too slow and too experimentalist for a punk rock release.

As such, \"The Bright Lights Of America\" can be seen as an improvement from \"For Blood And Empire\", but it isn\'t going to change your mind if you\'re calling the band sellouts for not writing another \"The Terror State\". The record has fine-tuned their stadium-friendly take on politically charged punk rock, with better songwriting, better choruses, and more fast songs fitted into the \'epic sound\' format. Luckily, Anti-Flag avoids doing a Yellowcard (think \"Lights And Sounds\") and release yet another solid, albeit very predictable album.

Download: Spit In The Face, The Bright Lights Of America, The Ink And The Quill (Be Afraid)
For the fans of: Propagandhi, Rise Against, The Unseen
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 01.04.2008
RCA Records

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