Distant Lights - Simulacrum (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Distant Lights

Simulacrum (2008)


Give Distant Lights this: Their album Simulacrum adequately runs through the Incubus/Hoobastank playbook. They're just a decade late to the party. Over the course of 10 tracks, the band bashes and howls through competent radio rock that's slightly nü-metal, slightly jammy, and slightly boring.

Frontman Gabriel Fry is the biggest reason why Distant Lights deserves an Incubus comparison--dude does a really good Brandon Boyd impression. It's clean vocals all the way while the rest of the band tries to "rock out." Gaelan Bellamy, then, serves as Fry's Mike Einziger, a guitarist who whips out all sorts of ethereal effects to lend atmosphere to the band's rock.

It's cellist/keyboardist Jon Dexter who adds new textures to the group's sound. Think of it as orchestral Incubus. Sometimes Dexter's place in the songs feels like an afterthought, but when Distant Lights finds a way to fully incorporate him into their sound, like on the classical/nü-metal hybrid "Artifice," the results are solid. Yeah, it's a little on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra side, but it's still kind of awesome, so shut up.

Distant Lights rarely gets this adventurous, though, and a majority of Simulacrum goes by in a blur. They certainly capture Incubus' sound, but not the hits. There are no big Morning View hooks, although the band occasionally captures Einziger's love of prog-rock and hip-hop, like on the showy "Monolith." But the lyrics mean fuck-all. Here's a sampling from "Patterns on the Rise": "Weather patterns on the rise / Falling whispers cast a lie / Worn senses fail / New born rain / Impassioning / Storms endanger man's duress / Rain will wash away the fragile balance." Maybe if it was 1997, Distant Lights would have a chance at appealing to a broader audience. But it's 2010, Obama's president, and when was the last time you cared about an Incubus album, let alone one from an Incubus knockoff?