Hit The Lights

Skip School, Start Fights

Written by: PP on 14/08/2008 00:50:57

Pop punk fans look this way! The 2006 sensation Hit The Lights is finally back with a follow up to their hugely successful and critically acclaimed debut album \"This Is A Stickup..\". Time since then hasn\'t been easy. Lots of touring around the world, and more notably, the loss of characteristic lead singer whose voice was undeniably one of the carrying forces of the band. Therefore \"Skip School, Start Fights\" is automatically set to answer two questions: 1) can they avoid the sophomore slump? and 2) can guitarist Nick Thompson sing as brightly as his predecessor?

The answer to both questions is yes. For proof on the first question, one only needs to listen to the ridiculously catchy \"Breathe In, Breathe Out\", which is all set to become the summer pop punk anthem of 2008 at least for the undersigned. It\'s arguably the catchiest song the band has written to date. Though a weird choice for a single, \"Stay Out\" is as high school pop punk as it gets, featuring yet another infectious chorus. As for the second question, Nick\'s voice is so closely aligned to Colin\'s that those paying less attention could easily not realize that the band has changed singers. He does an excellent job at hitting the high notes and building on the sleek guitar melodies, which, by the way, are a quantum leap from the simple chords of the first album. Almost every song has cracking riffs and melodic hooks, allowing for easy distinguish between the tracks, and I have to say that instrumentally, the album is pure gold. Those who heard the earlier record will notice how the roles have reversed, as the guitars are firmly at the forefront of the band\'s sound now except during the choruses. I\'m convinced that this is a consequence of the singer change, because even if Nick\'s a good singer, he doesn\'t have as much character as Colin did.

But for what it\'s worth, the fans should be happy for the trade-in because Hit The Lights have become more interesting instrumentally. At this stage it\'s possible to draw a parallel to what Fall Out Boy did on \"From Underneath The Cork Tree\", the follow up to \"Take This To Your Grave\": the band has matured slightly from the innocence of their high school years, resulting in an album that\'s slower, but simultaneously boasts of better artistic (and long-term listening) value. In other words, the sound is slightly different (though still easily tied to their past), while the youthful energy is still largely preserved. You can hear it on \"Tell Me Where You Are\", which sounds roughly like \"Catalyst\"-era New Found Glory, or the Fall Out Boy-ish medium tempo track \"Cry Your Eyes Out\", both of which carry the stamp of the debut while taking it a step further.

Where Hit The Light\'s debut album was full of high-tempo, up-beat pop punk songs, here only \"Statues\" and \"Hangs Em\' High\" possess the hurrying punk rock drumbeat, giving new fans glimpses of what the band used to sound like. The latter in particular has an amazing chorus to sing along to, helped by the production that has been driven to perfection on every track of the album. Producers look here for an example of how to make a band sound big in their shoes without making the tunes flat and overproduced.

In summary, then, \"Skip School, Start Fights\" demonstrates that Hit The Lights are still few steps ahead of most of their colleagues, explaining why they have been skyrocketing to stardom as of late. However, the record poses the classic Fall Out Boy problem for their next release - will they write more high school pop punk or take it a step further? No clues offered here, as both styles are left open for the band, but don\'t bother your mind with that, just enjoy their flawless high school pop punk the way it is, for now.


Download: Breathe In Breathe Out, Hangs Em\' High, Statues
For the fans of: New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, The Starting Line
Listen: Myspace

Release date 08.07.2008
Triple Crown Records

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