Headlights – The Enemies EP (CD)

Headlights – The Enemies EP / 2005 Polyvinyl / 4 Tracks / http://www.headlightsmusic.com / http://www.polyvinylrecords.com / Reviewed 24 November 2005

Four track EPs are always the most difficult of any release to review; I can’t get off with a shorter review because there are enough tracks but there are not enough tracks to really give a proper review. The style of music that the Headlights play is a very controlled, nuanced recording that is as dreamy as much of the other music on Polyvinyl. Like former Polyvinyl act The Red Hot Valentine, the inclusion of a synthesizer really pushes the track into an emotion-conveying mood. The sad thing for fans and reviewers alike is that everything is so smooth and blemish free that tracks slide away like butter; by the time one actually gets into the CD it is half-way over (“Everybody Needs a Fence To Lean On”).

The fuzz present in “Everybody Needs a Fence to Lean On” is the perfect tease for fans that want Headlights to break out in an unrestrained fury. Each of the track has two distinct levels working for it; first off, it puts forth a prim and proper type of indie rock that could easily be heard on mtvU or any alternative stations. Secondly, the arrangements really are complex creatures that are hidden behind this outward poppiness; a track like “It Isn’t Easy To Live That Well” is easily the arrangement equivalent of “The Joshua Tree”-era U2. The coy vocals tie together acts like Bjork and Susanne Vega, and really struggle trying to eke out a victory over the very active guitars on the track. It is tremendously hard to come up with the hit of this disc; “The Enemies” could conceivably contain all the tracks that could hit NME and CMJ for the Headlights in the next two years.

This is how perfect they are; tracks simultaneously touch the current and the past of alternative rock to the degree that one sees the past, present and future of indie rock in the Headlights. The cohesion that the band enjoys in “Centuries” may be the peak among peaks on “The Enemies”; with a set of vocals that approximate Delores from the Cranberries fighting with a super-sonic guitar arrangement, one is surrounded by the choicest delicacies in the smallest place available. The atmospheric arrangements that begin “Everybody Needs A Fence To Lean On” are transferred into the larger track; the more tender touch of the Headlights really give listeners a full range of the sounds that are available.

Top Track: Everybody Needs A Fence To Lean On

Rating: 7.6/10

[JMcQ]

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