is a melodic punk album, superficially anyway. There are gruff vocals, driving guitars, and killer backing vocals are abound. There is a lot more to it than that. There are some emo and indie rock influences in here. There’s also a fair amount of post-hardcore influence. This is most notable in some structural aspects of the songs. A song can begin as a straight forward punk song, but then go off into a mathy direction for a minute. Guitar leads are strong, and not generically “punk.” It’s not uncommon for a song to abruptly change and go a different direction all together.
It’s that tendency that is both the greatest strength and most glaring weakness on this record. On the plus side, it keeps the record interesting. On the other hand, it makes certain songs sound a little disjointed. “Lowercase” being an example of the former, “In The Pauses” an example of the latter. It’s not a bad thing, I suppose. It just feels like sometimes ambition got out ahead of the band. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but it can get distracting when a slow to mid-tempo song all of a sudden takes a right turn into quick punk song via an extended solo. Especially when it feels like it’s happening on almost every other song.
Let’s get back to the point though. Light On The Lake is a great record. It exists in a world where a punk rock record doesn’t have to be a “punk rock” record. It shows that bands can grow and mature without compromising. And, ultimately, isn’t that the point?
I’m a total sucker for melodic punk rock. When it comes to bands in that genre, it takes a lot to not sound painfully redundant. In a world where every melodic punk band sounds like Latterman, it is nice to get something that really doesn’t. Fuck, this record is great.
Signals Midwest play a great mix of indie, punk, and post-hardcore. Maybe throw in a bit of Midwestern emo for good measure. Latitudes And Longitudes mixes all those little sub-genres into a very cohesive record. This is a sophomore record that shits all over the idea of sophomore slump. It takes what the band had on Burn The Blueprints and adds some new dimensions. Instead of another straight forward pop punk type record, we get a record full of great hooks, great leads and solos, strong choruses, and some great gang vocals in places. I keep trying to think of a way to describe the music on this, and all I can think of is A Wilhelm Scream played through a filter of later era Hot Water Music. Even that description seems a little lacking.
This record has a central theme of motion. Be it leaving or staying. There is the underlying idea that you can’t leave everything behind, no matter how much you may want to. Rarely does this kind of record ever get that in depth on such topics. There is a high level of sincerity that shines through. On the theme of distance, this line is repeated throughout the record:
“I was counting the miles.
You were counting the days.
Ain’t it strange the numbers we wanted
were moving in opposite ways.”
The songs that most stand out to me are “I Was Lost” and “Limnology.” Also of note is the slower, acoustic song “January & Seven.” If anything, these songs define this record to me.
To make the long story short, this is a great piece of punk rock. It shows that you don’t have to stick to the stupid formula to make a great record. If more punk bands could be this sincere, maybe the genre wouldn’t seem like such a fucking joke.
Stream It (Bandcamp)