Floridians Safety seem to have a thing about the dark. It wasn't an immediate light bulb moment for me when listening to this release, however, when I sat down with the lyrics and read through them and gave the titles some thought it was like a moment of clarity. Obviously the first clue is in the title of the album and its similarly titled opening track, but on its own it could mean many things. Add in songs with titles such as "Bedtime Stories," "Waking Dream," "Gazing at Stars" and "Full Lunar Cycle," and things become a bit more clear. Also, it did my understanding no harm when I managed to get details of the meaning of the songs directly from the band after the first dozen or so listens to the album.
So a theme has been uncovered and although it's linked to darkness, the music banged out by these guys has quite a bright, bouncy and positive vibe to it. It would be easy to give Safety that once revered comparison in relation to EpiFat bands and stop there. However, these days that assessment frequently contains a negative connotation and cannot always be taken as the most positive of recommendations. What I would say to qualify such a view is that although the music contains many of the attributes that one would associate with that genre, Safety manages to stand out above the majority of bands I've heard in the past few years who could be collected under that, and as such I'm applying it in nothing other than an affirmative way.
The album opens with moments of silence, before a mournful piano slowly comes to life before fading as some percussion gradually takes over before launching the title track triumphantly into its full glory, hitting its stride in a flash, at pace with a blaze of guitar and crashing drums, with Andy Diaz's vocals being clear and adding the icing on the cake.
Throughout all 11 tracks, Safety is able to maintain a consistency in output that is pleasing to hear. The only downside is that the album flies by so quickly even when it's over the half-hour mark. The other plus side is that there is enough variety here to ensure that my interest didn't wane at any stage with both the music and lyrics maintaining a hold over me throughout.
The production is spot on and it's great to hear a guitar sounding this good and to have drum rolls rattling from one earphone to another through, making me feel as if my brain has had a good shake up in the process.
The EpiFat comparison does hold true at times, with me hearing bits that remind me of bands such as Strung Out, NOFX and Pennywise, to name but a few. There is also just one small moment that brings to mind Bad Religion and that is in the track "Walk Between The Raindrops," when the chorus has that bit of extra quality the legendary Californians manage to build into their own music. This track is easily my favorite and the way it brings in that minor similarity to Bad Religion from nowhere does it no harm in it sticking in my head so readily. In addition to the above there are also moments when you could bring the Movielife/I Am The Avalanche into the equation, especially during the trio of songs "Waking Dream," "Elephant in the Room" and "Light the Fires," when Safety manage to almost out-Movielife the Movielife in the high energy melodic punk rock stakes.
Night Lights has managed to firmly entrench itself in my head with its overall quality of consistently catchy songs and I can see this becoming a longstanding and firm favorite of mine. If you get hold of this in a physical or digital version, I'd recommend pestering the band for the explanations to these songs, because I found them informative, interesting and intriguing, making an excellent reading companion to the actual lyrics themselves.