From solo project to group effort, St. Louis’ Old Lights has gone through quite the transformation to create the diversified and full sound of its newest LP Like Strangers. After the practical solo-release of Old Lights’ first album, Every Night Begins The Same, band creator David Beeman decided to enlist some of St. Louis’ finest musicians—Beth Bombara (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Kit Hamon (bass, keyboards, vocals) and John Joern (drums)—to create the current line-up. Now each member is working to bring Beeman’s vision to life.
There is a definite southern-rock quality to Old Lights, in their melodic yet gruff guitar lines and the slight twang in Beeman’s voice. At the same time, the injection of synths here and there modernize their sound and removes them from becoming just another southern-rock band.
While writing songs for this record, Beeman was living with his girlfriend, and things were a bit rocky, which, while not being good for the relationship, was excellent for songwriting. Often the most tragic events somehow produce the best material (and album titles), so Beeman used the strange situation to begin work on the six songs comprising Like Strangers, by working on material at home and playing it back in the monitors, all while his girlfriend was still in the house. Don’t feel bad though, she’s a musician, too, and she was doing the same thing.
Beeman, as the principle songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist, tells his stories of love found and lost in a way that rarely feels depressing. Listened to in the given track order, the songs paint a vivid picture of a fizzling romance, from pointing fingers on “It Was You” to providing a dual perspective in “Wilder Honey” and the eventual end on “Death Came,” though the couple themselves managed to pull through and remain together today. Beeman lays it all on the table with nothing to hide, allowing an intensely intimate look into his personal life. But, even though the concept of the album is not a light matter, the musical arrangement never makes things feel awkward—their pop influenced keys and drums blur and cushion the sad core to the songs. Old Lights takes a touchy subject that can easily become a pity party and makes it sound like the least self-indulgent way to self-analyze without asking for condolence from its listeners, but instead providing them with heartbreak they can dance to.
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