Sweet Lights – Endless Town (Highline Records)

endless town artwork 464x474


Original partisan member of The War On Drugs and driving force behind the much fated The Capitol Years, Shai Halperin now harks back to more hazy, gentler, times with his latest incarnation, Sweet Lights.

As though auditioning for the two vacant positions in The Traveling Wilburys (left by the much-missed George Harrison and ‘Big O’, Roy Orbison; who are themselves an influence on Halperin), the  now reduced to a one-man band, Halperin, imbues himself with the kind of reflective – back-to-its-roots – melodic songwriting craftsmanship favored by those titular icons, who’ve come full circle, returning to the basics, but with decades of experience oozing from the harmonic warm pores of every slide and plucked note.

Our man seals the deal by covering the Wilburys AOR hit ‘Handle With Care’ on the B-side of this debut single. The novelty – I’m being flippant here – that made the original so attractive was hearing the combination of insane ‘rock-of-ages’ talent  (Tom Petty, Orbison, Harrison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne) sing on this auspicious gathering. Instead of the jaunty love-sick friendly comfort of that original, we’re treated to a dreamy soporific appropriation that sounds rather more sullen and drawn-out; dragged down with a cluttering reverb-stuttering drumtrack, and remorseful Dear Prudence melodics.

Thankfully the main act, ‘Endless Town‘ lightens the atmosphere with its Byrds-esque charms, lovingly pinned drawl and attentive west coast of America, circa 1968, sunshine pop reverberated mood. Halperin sure has the ear for a great hook – even if its plucked from another era – and can add just enough variation (touches of the quaint Idle Race and Beach Boys faux-Hawaiian sound can be heard shuffling around in the drifting mix) to make this a pleasant and enjoyable ride.

Nostolgic in many ways, Endless Town retreats to the tested quality of a bygone epoch without indulging in teary-eyed remeberance.








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