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Anti-Flag - The Bright Lights of America (Cover Artwork)

Anti-Flag

Anti-Flag: The Bright Lights of AmericaThe Bright Lights of America (2008)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:


Contributed by: YahHey07YahHey07
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In one word: epic. But in its attempts at becoming the overarching, multifaceted punk record to close up the decade, Anti-Flag's The Bright Lights of America expands their own musical horizons but merely enforces the musical quo of all things past and present. Endless ambition, flawless executi.
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In one word: epic. But in its attempts at becoming the overarching, multifaceted punk record to close up the decade, Anti-Flag's The Bright Lights of America expands their own musical horizons but merely enforces the musical quo of all things past and present.

Endless ambition, flawless execution, timeless presentation? No, not really.

The overtly ambitious musical drive of Anti-Flag's sophomore major label full-length dissolves any sentiments that reach out to the common man or the disenfranchised teen to drive political and social change, unlike their previous releases. Coming from one who thinks that Anti-Flag was at the height of their career with The Terror State but didn't take much from For Blood and Empire, I feel that A-F bit off more than they could chew. When I first heard that this album would expand and include timpanis, classical interludes and chanting children (the voice of tomorrow?), I was intrigued, but just after listening to the first track, "Good and Ready," Anti-Flag appear above me on an Iron Maiden scale stage backed by Metallica's S&M orchestra, parading for the people.

The experimentation on this album is without a doubt interesting, but incredibly blatant and questionable. It also begs the question: What were the influences while writing this album? While on prior albums, Anti-Flag enlist the impressions of Billy Bragg, Woody Guthrie, Joe Strummer, etc., here the influences are entirely contemporary. Whether it's the uppity Against Me! rhythms of "If You Wanna Steal," the Strike Anywhere melodies of "Spit in the Face," or the horn, harmonica, organ and violin motif from bands like Defiance, Ohio or Fake Problems, listen up: Anti-Flag is invoking the voice of today to inspire…well, the voice of today.

If the ambition on the album isn't enough to exhaust you, the execution and production will proceed to put you on your knees. Filled with bass booms, lo-fi to heavy and compressed transitions, the disparity of light and dreamy from heavy and brooding on this album is draining. The instrumentation builds on the standards, but attempts to purvey more than its worth. The dichotomous guitar work between left and right channels has a tendency to create depth and demonstrate teamwork through valiant composition, but with Bright Lights it is, at times, frustrating and harmful to unity.

Anti-Flag puts forth 110% on this opus of a recording, but it fails to create any lasting meaning or evoke any new ideas. In 1998 we witnessed and participated in The Shape of Punk to Come's provocative sound and energy, in 2006, we admired the modesty and honesty of Hidden World, both contemporary albums that stand the test of time. Here we have an album trying its hardest to work away from its peers and closer to godliness. With morally divine chanting children to infinitely wise and inspirational political soundbites, Anti-Flag overshoots the moon and lands back on Earth promoting MySpace Secret Shows on an RIAA-affiliated label. This is not the next 13-Point Program..., Axl Rose has not been re-reinvented, nor was anything damaged -- this is just four guys finding their own path to personal achievement and self-preservation, a commonplace but commendable act.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Anti-Flag - For Blood and EmpireAnti-Flag - A Benefit for Victims of Violent CrimeNOFX - Punk In DrublicAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseAnti-Flag - The Terror StateAnti-Flag - Underground NetworkAnti-Flag - A New Kind Of ArmyThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitAnti-Flag - The People or the Gun.

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
publichousing (March 27, 2010)

The words to this album are really quite good, they most def wanted to leave an impact on the listener. I think they knew, as this was their last major label release, that they needed to make the music more accessible, but still great/experimental, and also write the best lyrics they could so their new listeners would find something important here. I obviously find opposition to my praises of this album and band, but I always stick behind the band as I do enjoy them alot and I think they are doing what they think is best to counter what they see as the disgusting things in this world.

publichousing (March 20, 2010)

I really like this album. No Warning and We Are The Lost are really good I thought. I think it's an interesting album to listen to and it pleased me, though it looks like I am one of few, ha.

LoiterBot2000 (February 22, 2009)

I enjoyed Anti-Flag's first two records. I really did. A New Kind Of Army sounded so confusing and raw to me the first time I heard it (And it sounds so clean to me nowadays), but it pulled me in and led me to other bands and sounds that most kids my age didn't know about.
I lost track of them after they put an album out on Fat Wreck. When I checked back in on Anti-Flag, I found this perfect piece of shit record. I can only hope that some of the kids that hear "The Bright Lights Of America" will poke around in Anti-Flag's back catalogue and be pulled in like I was.

savato (December 5, 2008)

I enjoyed this, I couldn't understand the whole message of the album but thats my shortcoming not theirs. Some things bothered me a little. The singing children I thought was a little creepy, and, I bought the physical CD and the jacket folded out into little square post cards with the adresses to different offices with a little shpeal on what they had to say on different issues. I think I should pay for their music, but not their postage.

NotPatriotic (April 23, 2008)

The fact that the album insert is not mentioned in the review should make a person write off this review instantly. I don't think the music is that great overall, but the album insert is incredible. I have never seen an album insert so cool. Seriously, I no longer consider this band to be sellouts just because of the album insert. A work guys. Score is for the insert.

skankbook (April 20, 2008)

Well written review.

I like it. Like "For Blood and Empire," it has a couple stellar tracks and a few forgettable ones. Overall it's pretty good, and a step in a new direction for them. If you're an Anti-Flag fan, pick it up.

Alien (April 10, 2008)

Good review.
buut not so great cd.
I don't think they're sellouts, or hate them for signing to a major label.
I mean, I'd probably give for blood and empire a 3.5

but both were no Terror State.

I think they're just trying a little too hard on this cd.
Using all these other insturments, and the children and stuff, when, I think, they can write a much better album without all that, such as terror state, or underground network.

mikkei (April 7, 2008)

I thought this album was freaking amazing. While I can totally understand that some older Anti-flag fans could lament the creation of this album and half-grudgingly continue to listen to “Their System Doesn’t Work for You” with the word “sellout” on their lips, I love what Anti-flag has evolved into. Every band will eventually change. A band is like a person. It can grow and change, hopefully for the better. This band has grown into something amazing.

I reviewed the album if anyone wants to check it out:
http://mikkei.com/2008/04/07/anti-flag-the-bright-lights-of -america/

ItsAgiftAndAcurse (April 7, 2008)

Really good album. A good mix of fast, and mid-tempo songs. Their instrumentation shows good depth. I agree they went a bit overboard with trying to be "epic" at times but overall I'm not complaining.

And BTW, stop the Iron Maiden bashing!! They're a good band!

Scruffy (April 6, 2008)

"Posted by rkl on 2008-04-05 01:54:54

Posted by telegraphrocks on 2008-04-01 09:18:37
My Score:
Well, I actually love this album.

In my opinion, they've gone from total dogshit ("Their System Doesn't Work For You", "Die For The Government"), to total awesomeness (I think every album they put out is better than the previous one).

I'm not 15, I don't have a mohawk... but I still love Anti-Flag. Yeah, a major label is kind of bullshit for them, but "For Blood And Empire" and "The Bright Lights Of America" are still, in my own opinion, very awesome albums.
apparently, you were never into anti flag in the first place.
funny that a band that was always so anti-capitalist is charging $20 on thier tour dates"

Because if you didn't like them when they sucked, you're not allowed to like 'em now that they're good.

thomas7155 (April 5, 2008)

Review the Good Riddance record. They said more than Anti-Flag will ever say.

rkl (April 5, 2008)

Posted by telegraphrocks on 2008-04-01 09:18:37
My Score:
Well, I actually love this album.

In my opinion, they've gone from total dogshit ("Their System Doesn't Work For You", "Die For The Government"), to total awesomeness (I think every album they put out is better than the previous one).

I'm not 15, I don't have a mohawk... but I still love Anti-Flag. Yeah, a major label is kind of bullshit for them, but "For Blood And Empire" and "The Bright Lights Of America" are still, in my own opinion, very awesome albums.

apparently, you were never into anti flag in the first place.
funny that a band that was always so anti-capitalist is charging $20 on thier tour dates

wyzo (April 4, 2008)

true, I listened to this because it was getting such mild or negative reviews.

Since I haven't really cared for their records since the go-kart records lp, some random listening to the half new stuff record they put out.

So I thought maybe since everyone hates it, in reverse bizarro logic I'll like it.

And you know, I do. I really do. Can't even listen to the last 2-3 records, but I dig this in its entirety.

So give it a shot.

w

cpp_ (April 3, 2008)

I like anti flag, and I really didn't like For Blood and Empire when it first came out. I listended to it over and over and 3 songs turned out to be pretty good excluding the rest of the crap on the album. I heard this didn't like it, and listened and listened to it again, and it is honestly the most boring album I have ever heard. If anything you can expect from anti flag is a couple of good catchy fast punk songs, but this had nothing that I can even get into.

scorpiondeathlock (April 3, 2008)

.....but what about punk rock?

what about punk rock HAHAHAHAHA

thats back when i used to care about this band..

damo (April 3, 2008)

"this review isn't pretentious its thoughtful,"

it can be both mate

telegraphrocks (April 3, 2008)

HonestAbe, they are STILL that polite and nice.

Score's for that.

HonestAbe (April 3, 2008)

that was rihgt before A New Kind of Army came out

HonestAbe (April 3, 2008)

in my younger days... i was probably 14/15, couldnt drive yet, These guys played Warped Tour and I was really excited to see them.
Afterwards me and my friend were waiting for his dad to pick us up and we happened to see these guys loading their gear into their van.
ANyway, us being kids shly walked over to them and told them that we thought they were awesome.
And they were some of the nicest guys in the world, completely unbothered by our attention in their down time.(the festival had closed) Tehy hung out talking to us for a good 15 minutes.

Because of that, I've always had a respect for them because they helped me realize the difference between people and rock stars.

I don't listen to them anymore, but I hope they still treat their fans the same way and if they do, I say long live Anti-Flag if for nothing more than to make some kids happy

gnardo (April 3, 2008)

*write

gnardo (April 3, 2008)

It's as though they asked a 14 year-old kid to right a review for Pitchfork.

ElroyCohen (April 3, 2008)

Fucked Up's Hidden World is a contemporary album that stands the test of time? Bold. I'll leave it at that.

inagreendase (April 3, 2008)

Review is definitely pretentious, and I posted it. So, yeah.

Anyone else get a weird Trainwreck vibe from this? Like a pop-punk band
trying desperately to branch out, only in A-F's case sort of falling short.

I also get a huge New Wave sense from this too. I never would have categorized
the two bands together before, even in their career trajectory and similar
compromise of beliefs, but there's definitely some weird convergence here. Keep in
mind I liked New Wave but don't really know how I feel about this yet.

I don't get how a band can still write about the same thing on every single album.

You don't have to get it in Anti-Flag's case since this album is more personal and less political.

You really think The Terror State was better than For Blood and Empire?

I certainly do.

INDW (April 3, 2008)

this review isn't pretentious its thoughtful, the two seem to be easily confused. being informed and interested does not make you pretentious, talking down does and this review doesn't do it.

As for the album, i find it pretty poor - much worse than b&e which was enjoyable in a daft kind of way. I was expecting a big fat 1 star so the fact that is has received this fairly even handed review is another compliment.

damo (April 3, 2008)

pretentious review to be honest (just my opinion).

i've heard all their records but only bought 1 but i got this based on the records they were streaming. It's good. The song Bright Lights Of America is the best song on the album.

i think people just think it's funny or trendy to slag off Anti-Flag yet i bet that most who've commented on this review have bought the record

clamum (April 2, 2008)

This review can suck on my manhood.

crayZsaaron (April 2, 2008)

Like a few others who commented, I hated the album the first time I listened to it. But then I listened a few more times, and realized that it was really quite good. This review needs a replacement; it is not adequate in my opinion.

FrankReich (April 2, 2008)

Bright Lights, Beef Jerky

Hey_ska (April 2, 2008)

I don't get how a band can still write about the same thing on every single album.

Hey_Asshole (April 2, 2008)

anti-flag is one of those bands that should just fucking stop. they have no put out a good full length (in my opinion) since New Kind Of Army...

Underground Network was ehhhh, Terror State was shit, and i never bothered with Blood And Empire.

basically the only AF i can tolerate is NKOA and the split with the Bouncing Souls

jacknife737 (April 2, 2008)

Now that i've actually listened to it, it's quite solid. I'd give the edge to Blood and Empire, however this seems to be a "grower", wasn't too keen on it after the first listen, but after the 2nd and 3rd time i played it i really got into it. This has some of the best stuff these guys have ever done.

gnardo (April 2, 2008)

While it looks like I'm in the minority, I thought this was a horrible review. The reviewer is incredibly melodramatic and overwrought.

Cyanotic (April 2, 2008)

Score's for the review, way to rattle off orgcore bands and complain that Anti Flag isn't like them.

That said, mediocre album.

miniblindbandit (April 2, 2008)

the cover art reminds me a lot of that incubus video for megalomaniac.

VictorIkpeba24 (April 2, 2008)

Every band has ups and downs. This is a down. Hopefully they will use it to make on the next record the "jump of quality" (in French the litteral traduction makes sense, I dunno in English) they have never really made in my opinion.

elmstreetkid (April 2, 2008)

Well, yeah, I have faith that Anti-Flag can find something to bitch about in order to make themselves sound smart and politically relevant. It's just that they've had one easy target for a full eight years on which to focus their impotent fury. I figure losing that's gonna be a killer.

fallingupwards84 (April 2, 2008)

"what are they going to write about once Bush is gone? "

you do realize they were even more radical during the Clinton administration

SydBarrett420 (April 2, 2008)

One of the main reasons I didn't like this album was that everything was so literal and heavy handed. From the album cover, to the title of the album, to the names of the songs, to the lyrical content. The obviousness of the overall tone and message of the album. From this album you think Anti-Flag

R3vengeTherapy (April 2, 2008)

Scruffy

I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Terror State has a lot of really catchy songs and some pretty entertaining songwriting, but I was bored every time I listened to FBAE. And the lyrics seriously are atrocious on FBAE, not that they're much better on Terror State. They've really laid on the cheese-factor with their past couple records and I don't like it. My favorite release is Underground Network, and while I thought it was really great when I was 15, it doesn't do much for me anymore, save for the nostalgia.

elmstreetkid (April 1, 2008)

Anti-Flag is a tribute to boundless cliché. I can't wait until their next album - what are they going to write about once Bush is gone? It's like being a little kid and your best friend has to move away.

Also, the presence of singing children on this album to totally illustrate, like, the tragedy of the situation (TWICE! if I'm not mistaken) forces me to rate it a 1. Sorry, Anti-Flag, but kids are only allowed on a record if it's the Langley Schools Music Project. Or the creepy jump rope song from Nightmare on Elm Street.

notfeelingcreative (April 1, 2008)

"Finally I found someone that also thinks "The Shape of Punk to Come" is too overrated."

You can add me to that list as well, I've never really been able to 'get' that album.

notfeelingcreative (April 1, 2008)

"Anti-Flag's lyrics have gotten progressively worse over the years, and I doubt this is any different. Pass."

Yeah, five years ago, I would've got up and 9:30 AM and rushed out to buy this, I slept in today, then went to work, then got coffee, then I did some homework and had some soup. Will I ever get around to buying this? Probably not.

Nap (April 1, 2008)

Finally I found someone that also thinks "The Shape of Punk to Come" is too overrated.

genebuonaccorsi (April 1, 2008)

anyone else think the actual recorded sound of this sounds similar to Die For the Government

tylartheadventurer (April 1, 2008)

I like this album. It is very "folk" influenced. But I think it works. They have put out other awesome albums, but they have always sounded similar. Its only natural that a band would want to do something different.

NotPatriotic (April 1, 2008)

"The Shape Of Punk To Come" is incredibly overrated. It really is not anything special. But my love does go out to Sweden, that country produces many great bands.

telegraphrocks (April 1, 2008)

Oh, and the song "I'm So Sick Of You".

telegraphrocks (April 1, 2008)

There are 2 itunes-exclusive songs: "Caution To The Wind", and "What Do You Think About Western Civilization" (which is a NEWLY recorded version).

They are album-only tracks, so does anyone know how else one could go about obtaining them?
I know, I know, the band sucks, this album sucks, up the punx and what-not, but how do I get those songs without spending $12?

Scruffy (April 1, 2008)

RT-

Are you kidding me? Terror State had one good song. Well, it had a good b-side, too. For Blood And Empire was a well-constructed album that was more cohesive and more strongly presented than anything they'd done before. Terror State was better than their old stuff, sure, but it was weak and too samey. Honestly, the same can be said for this album. FBAE, however, had a lot of variety, more complexity than their earlier stuff and it was a heckuva lot catchier than anything they've done, other than "School Of Assassins".

telegraphrocks (April 1, 2008)

Nine.

Rock.

R3vengeTherapy (April 1, 2008)

GlassPipeMurder
You really think The Terror State was better than For Blood and Empire? I must say that puts a strain on the perspective to some degree, though I will have to hear this first to make final judgments

Whaaaaat? Blood and Empire was Terror State all over again, only without all the creative songwriting. Well, as creative as Anti-Flag can be anyway. Blood and Empire sounds like a collection of b-sides from Terror State.

Anti-Flag's lyrics have gotten progressively worse over the years, and I doubt this is any different. Pass.

thatsyouth (April 1, 2008)

My love for Anti Flag has officially died.

JerryCola (April 1, 2008)

This album fails to deliver anything worthwhile.

Maybe Fat Wreck will take them back for the next album as long as they learn from the mistake that is this album.

MN_punkmaster-skaman (April 1, 2008)

After listening to this, I can say without a doubt that Anti-Flag are too ambitious and pretty overrated. Granted, I do enjoy half of their stuff that's out there, but they're just not great. I don't know what I'm getting at. Anyways, Anti-Flag needs to do something new.

BJR (April 1, 2008)

Agreed, great review. Summed up my feelings to the t.

allon (April 1, 2008)

Great review, I couldn't agree more. I feel that they could have done a much better job if they didn't overload all this experimentation onto one disc. It's much longer than anything they've put out before and seems pretty overwhelming for the un-expecting fan. The lyrics also seemed pretty half-hearted to me. One thing that really bothered me was the bonus track "Tar and Sagebrush", the folk song that #2 sang. I really hope he never does that again. His voice kills the song. Really, why couldn't Justin do another one instead?

thomas7155 (April 1, 2008)

Reason to believe > this album.

TurdFurguesun (April 1, 2008)

anyone notice "spit in your face" sounds alot like "reaction" by from ashes rise?

red_eye_inc (April 1, 2008)

I can't believe anyone tolerates this crap. The songs are poorly written and the lyrics are cheesy. The "experimental" instrumentation sounds tacked on.

ShawnRamone (April 1, 2008)

Overall I've been on both sides with Anti-Flag I've liked them and then I've just said the hell with them.This album is too polished for me its not a bad album but I think fighting under an Anti-AGovernment banner on a major label is a big no no.For fans of Anti-Flag I wouldn't be surprised if its a little disappointing.For people who have never heard them check them out and see what you think I don't I give it a 6 out of 10.

GarrettIrish (April 1, 2008)

I listened through this, and I've never been a huge Anti-Flag fan, but I do feel like this fell short of their previous stuff. It's WAY too overproduced. Political message from a major label with the best recording and polish money can buy?

All that dye and hair gel finally sunk into their brains.

niveK82 (April 1, 2008)

The bonus track deserves 5 stars, nothing else does though.

tinner (April 1, 2008)

Spit in the face is a pretty good song, the rest is not terrible but not great

GlassPipeMurder (April 1, 2008)

You really think The Terror State was better than For Blood and Empire? I must say that puts a strain on the perspective to some degree, though I will have to hear this first to make final judgments.

Nap (April 1, 2008)

I hated this album when I listened to it, first. Now it's growing on me. I thought they just tried too much new things so suddenly. And the tracks could be shorter. Anyway, good stuff.

baseball (April 1, 2008)

I commend them for branching out, I enjoy it when bands do. But this really falls flat on its face. Nothing from this sticks with me at all, and I gave it a few shots.

I think they had their formula down with the last album.

telegraphrocks (April 1, 2008)

Well, I actually love this album.

In my opinion, they've gone from total dogshit ("Their System Doesn't Work For You", "Die For The Government"), to total awesomeness (I think every album they put out is better than the previous one).

I'm not 15, I don't have a mohawk... but I still love Anti-Flag. Yeah, a major label is kind of bullshit for them, but "For Blood And Empire" and "The Bright Lights Of America" are still, in my own opinion, very awesome albums.

Tear me apart.

feeeding5000 (April 1, 2008)

An excellent review. Nice job... you.

I was never a big fan of Anti-Flag; they got to me too late for me to think that they're anything special. I don't want to start a dumb argument about their politics (compromised!), but I will say that the songs I've heard from their major-label albums are more bland, unappealing pop-punk in the vein of Rise Against, etc. I understand that they're trying to get the message out to people who wouldn't hear it normally, but with a sound this watered-down, it's much less likely that anyone receptive to the message will listen. It's like all the conservatives who listen to "American Idiot" - once the music is designed for a certain level of mass appeal, it's barely worth it. It's as if the message doesn't exist, and it's just hooks and choruses. I believe that the power of music to politicize people is still best expressed in forms of music that you really have to delve into and stick to to understand. If you're willing to be open-minded enough to listen to un-musical stuff like Crass, or "antiquated" stuff like Woody Guthrie, then you've got the kind of personality that will help you commit to political action.
Just my 1.5 cents.

crackpotdemagogue (April 1, 2008)

"Anti-Flag overshoots the moon and lands back on Earth promoting MySpace Secret Shows on an RIAA-affiliated label."

score is for the above sentence.

killcitykills (April 1, 2008)

best review I have read on this site

jacknife737 (April 1, 2008)

I can't comment on the content of the review, as i have yet to listen to the album, however, is certainly written better then the average review, i look forward to your future contributions.

fallingupwards84 (April 1, 2008)

good review... after listening to a few of the new songs on their myspace, this will be the first anti-flag album i dont buy

bryne (April 1, 2008)

You should write more reviews. This is good stuff.

AnotherBoringStory (April 1, 2008)

Good review - this is about how I feel about it too. But I have to say, "The Smartest Bomb" and "The Shadow Of Death" are two of the best songs they've ever done. I wish the whole album had sounded more like those.

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