The Electro-Lights have released their new self-titled seven-song EP, a dramatic collection of hard-rocking songs aiming to make a significant statement in contemporary rock and roll. Consisting of Oliver Meacham and Samuel Mahler, the duo has been an on-and-off project for three years, notably separated during Mahler’s deployment to Afghanistan. Now, though, they’re back in force.
When I began listening to ‘Watch Your Back,’ the first track on the album, I had to double-check that my Black Keys playlist wasn’t on. Man, these guys ooze of Black Keys, albeit early Keys, not their new disco-infused stuff. In fact, the riff from ‘Watch Your Back’ sounds eerily similar to the one from ‘I Got Mine.’
That’s awesome, though. Early Black Keys understood how to take that drum and guitar duo and propel it forward with garage rock blues. There have been two uber-popular bands that embodied this mold, the White Stripes being the other. With that said, the Electro-Lights sound more like the Keys.
‘Modern Day Don Quixote’ is a great song, too. I’m not sure if it’s subconscious or something, but again, the riff and drumming on this track sound very similar to ‘Gold On The Ceiling.’ The verses are so remarkably like those from the Black Keys hit, especially in regard to the guitar riff. Fortunately, these are the only two songs on the album that drew such comparisons.
The fuzzy, overly distorted style of ‘The Ballad of Scruff McGruff’ is the undeniable highlight of the seven songs. It’s worth noting that the Electro-Lights’ lyrics are wonderful and unique. This track has a bit of an old-country, Johnny Cash-like lyrical style combined with that searing garage rock.
Even though I spent a lot of time comparing these guys to the Black Keys, because parallel is abundantly clear, there is a whole lot of other influence stirring the Electro-Lights’ pot. It’s bluesy, lyrical folky, and you’d be wrong if you said that Led Zeppelin hasn’t played a role, if not at least indirectly, in the formation of their sound.
‘The Prequel’ finishes out the record with a wonderfully unique track that feels a tad like the pivotal White Stripes song, ‘Hotel Yorba.’ Once it is all said and done, this EP is a really pleasing experience. Sometimes the line between them and similar acts blurs and I think those first two songs may have been subconscious rewrites of Black Keys songs. (Instrumentally, at least.) Who doesn’t do that, though? John Lennon got all mixed up for a while in the mid ‘60s because he kept writing in Bob Dylan’s style. I can’t imagine it’s intentional, and if anything, it’s complimentary. I hope they use this record as a spring-board for something more original; they certainly have the talent.
by Brett Stewart