Review: No LightsDream Eraser

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The debut record from No Lights is an LP caught out of time. With a lineup boasting a shared background in frenetic hardcore, and a primary musical influence rooted in post-punk projects of the ’80s, NO LIGHTS’ debut is a record that’s bursting with the insatiable energy of the former and precision of the latter.

Kicking off the record, this juxtaposition is illustrated most with the one-two punch of the first and second tracks, “Sparrows” and “Shallow Breathing”. With both featuring an unstable, ostinato guitar run alongside a chunky, riding bassline, they equally bring to mind the stylish restraint of early-2000s post-punk revivalism as well as the muscular, anticipatory riffing found on the harshest metalcore of that era.

Originating from projects as disparate as Early Graves and Kowloon Walled City, No Lights’ hardcore pedigree is obvious. Their combination of indie pop and hardcore sensibilities, however—alongside lush production—make Dream Eraser a pretty singular record. With stop-start, staccato song structures indebted as much to the Pixies as they are to Snapcase, it’s a record whose influences are present and observable, but blended into something refreshing.

As a result, despite operating within angular post-punk frameworks, the bright and tight production of Dream Eraser brings to mind emotive and chaotic metal and hardcore from Deathwish’s peak years—unsurprising given the relation to Early Graves, a group very much indebted to the musical style of Converge.

The lushness of its presentation belies a certain sense of unease. “Nowhere To Run” highlights No Lights’ persistent, anticipatory rhythmic sensibility which underlines tracks throughout the record, filling the songs with a potent sense of unrest—as if the stability of the composition about to collapse at any moment.

This tension is at times undercut by the records ultimate restraint—it’s an album that very rarely unleashes into the sort of mania it hints towards. Its commitment to such an aurally restrained, almost ascetic sensibility can leave parts of Dream Eraser feeling occasionally a little flaccid on relisten.

“Antenna” is the instrumental highlight of the record—shimmering production buffing a precise performance, the interpolation between bass and rhythm at its peak. There isn’t much in the way of instrumental flashiness throughout Dream Eraser but the performances are consistently solid, highlighted by satisfying instances where the individual performers really just click into place.

Following on from this, “Head In A Cage” is more somber, reflective and pensive. The interplay of the dual guitar setup is uncharacteristically pretty, bringing to mind the guitar wizardry of both Hum and Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins.

In the opening line I mentioned the record feeling caught out of time. Despite being indebted to the post-punk of the ’80s, it feels just as comfortable as a lost continuation of the late 2000s blogosphere post-punk and rock scene—specifically the groups lauded by the underground like The Men, Destruction Unit, Japandroids, Deerhunter etc. They shared similarities to No Lights—fuzzed-out and emotive rock music that was new and fresh, emerging from the dust of hardcore and post-punk. Acts that were predicted to crossover and flourish outside of the underground—before ultimately becoming one of many micro-scenes that was overtaken by other trends, left behind only to those who remember it. Dream Eraser feels like it encapsulates and progresses from that same era of online rock music—matured and battleworn, but all the more unique because of it.

In many ways Dream Eraser is a more refined version of what Ceremony have been attempting to achieve with their past handful of records. Whereas Ceremony’s mellowed sound is hampered by flat production and—unfortunately—unmemorable songwriting, No Lights manages to skillfully articulate a proper blend of post-punk and hardcore that while maybe occasionally too ascetic for some to appreciate, is graceful and efficient in delivery.


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