Having been graced by the patronage of Aaron Harris and Chino Moreno for the last three years, Brooklyn couple Spotlights have shared the stage with the latter’s Deftones while still sailing under many radars. That may be about to change with the permanent appointment of live drummer Chris Enriquez and the release of sophomore album Love & Decay (Ipecac Recordings).
Spotlights’ calling card is a blend of crushing weight and impossible melody. The initial swell of opener ‘Continue The Capsize’ is softened by Mario Quintero‘s lead chimes, while the quiet middle section still carries a threat. The return of the leaden bluster surrounds the gentle harmonies of Quintero and wife Sarah, while the crush maintains wistful feel. It’s a heady mix carrying elements of post-Metal, Doom, and The Pixies‘ style of proto-Grunge, perfectly exemplified in the ensuing ‘The Particle Noise’: ‘Monkey’s Gone To Heaven’ slowed to a sleeping crawl, the rhythm and riffs pulverising yet the dreamy vocals and airy lead giving an optimistic, sunny feel.
The squalled guitar of ‘Far From Falling’ cedes to Mario’s shimmering riff, lead chimes, and delicate synth, whilst Sarah’s bass carves holes in the canvas. Yet the gorgeous lullaby of the midpoint is interrupted only briefly by Enriquez’ syncopated battery until jagged edges of each jigsaw piece begin to force their way back in. It’s such a natural progression that it’s hardly noticeable until that colossal riff returns, laying waste to all in its path. There’s more than a passing nod to Soundgarden with the twisting heaviness of ‘Until The Bleeding Stops’, the ethereal harmonies gliding atop a Low-end resonance that rides a fearsome groove and shakes a stick at any track from Superunknown.
Mario’s leadwork and the dual vocals are undoubtedly the light of a generally dark environment and the joyous, Deftones-esque ‘Xerox’ is the prime example of this: the breathy, summery harmonies complementing the jangling melody while surfing the crest of a brutal backdrop. The fractious beauty ‘The Age Of Decay’ marries a Prefab Sprout folkiness with shattering kaleidoscopes of guitar and a curious rhythm which dictates the track’s heavier, more ominous second half: while the Fender Rhodes-style Electronica of ‘Mountains Are Forever’ couples with those Post guitars and unusually harsh vocal for the album’s most emotive, powerful moment.
Closing track ‘The Beauty Of Forgetting’ begins with Dub samples before acoustic strings and lush synth paint brittle pictures of picnics in the park. The bass, however, beats a harsh, vibrating pulse in order to prepare for the fulmination, which bears huge weight yet manages to maintain those soft textures and lazy harmonies. It’s a track with twists and turns, melodic bludgeon dropping to blue skies and resurrecting with scathing, wailing guitars which finalise this quite endearing experience. Spotlights aren’t unique but show an ability to meld styles which create their own identity, all the while balancing maudlin sounds with a bright disposition. It’s hugely likable.
7 / 10