Anti-Flag – The Bright Lights of America

UPDATE: Songs removed upon request. Sorry.

Georgetown Radio requires all DJ’s to write several album reviews per semester. Although it can be difficult to get your hands on the album you want to review, I was fortunate enough to get first pick in reviewing an album by a band that has held an important place in my heart since I was a wee-little freshman in high school. Here goes…

Is Anti-Flag going soft on us? Depending on how you approach this question, the answer could be yes. The Pittsburgh punk outfit’s political messages are as strong as ever, but this time around the band has openly embraced taking a more experimental approach to their music for their sophomore major-label release, The Bright Lights of America. This does not mean the band is trying to go all Mars Volta on us; instead, the band hopes to keep their music alive and vibrant in an ever-changing music industry by complementing their melodic-punk sound with interesting musical additions, such as orchestral percussion. Simply put, Anti-Flag is trying to do what other punk bands have not done before.

For the most part, this new experimental approach to the band’s music works. On the track “Spit in the Face,” the group is able to flawlessly transition from a dark piano-led introduction to a balls-to-the-wall punk-rock song. The aptly titled “Go West” also brings some new flavor into the band’s repertoire by including a harmonica-riff that would be more common of folk or country music. However, there are other songs where this new approach just does not turn out well. “If You Wanna Steal (You Better Learn How to Life),” is probably Bright Lights’ greatest low-point; the atypical drumbeat just does not feel like Anti-Flag I have come to love and know and does not go well with the band’s general attitude.

Although this album can be singled out for its experimental overtones, The Bright Lights of America is still chock-full of angry lyrics and fast-paced punk rock songs. Tracks such as “The Modern Rome is Burning” remind me that the Anti-Flag the world has come to know is still alive and well. Unfortunately, songs like these are the highlights of Bright Lights. Although I am glad that the band tried to keep its music fresh for this album, I think that Anti-Flag should stick to their guns next time they are in the studio. Nevertheless, they can take a lesson or two from Bright Lights and build off of the successful experimental elements of the album for their next full-length effort.

MP3: Anti-Flag – The Modern Rome Is Burning
MP3: Anti-Flag – Go West


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