Let’s start at the beginning… 2004 saw a friendship bloom between guitarists Michael and Luis. With musical interests in tact, the pair decided to join together to create their own version of rock music.
They spent most of that era touring California before moving to New York in 2014. Bringing you up to speed, though, after numerous years of crafting their own sound, they recruited Alex on bass and Nick on drums in 2012. Inspired by the 60s movement and fellow rockers The Kinks, their first release was the single “Too Many Girls” with the B side “Too Tough to Bear.” Ever since then, the band have been reaching further into their journey. Climbing ladders to the top, The Mystery Lights are set to release their second full length album “Too Much Tension” on May 10.
Kicking the album off with a synth-inspired intro, it’s only suitable for the short-but-sweet entrance to the album to be called “Synthro.” Haunting but with a hypnotizing nature, it’s a soundscape to a futuristic kingdom. “I’m So Tired (of Living In The City)” takes a journey through wanting to escape the hardship of living in a city but still feeling anxious to get out. It captures a raw essence with similarities to The Stooges.
There’s a fun nature to “Can’t Get Through to My Head.” It’s the type of song that would get you onto the dance floor to jive with your partner. It’s a soft blend of 60s pop with the 60s psychedelia movement, too. A melodic guitar solo on the left, and a subtle, tremolo effect on the right-hand side of the mix is a perfect balance of the pop and a psychedelic side.
Reflecting on the demons in our own hearts, “Someone Else Is In Control” deals with anxiety and even insanity. Released as one of the promotional singles for the album, it’s a perfect hype for what the album feels like. Controlling vocals whipped with a fuzz like guitar, its percussive beat could make anyone relate.
“Goin’ Down” showcases a warm bass tone playing a simple riff, but the guitar part transforms the simplified tune into its own reality. Sounding like something you’d hear the 70s prog band Focus play, it’s a slightly different approach for the band, but my goodness, it’s another string for their catalogue.
The album deals with songs that aren’t a long duration. In other words, the songs get to the point a lot quicker, which is just what you need for simple tunes. “Wish That She’d Come Back” compliments the aura with its northern soul ability. It sounds like The Animals had a jam with Al Wilson and created this masterpiece. The Mystery Lights have a distinctive sound that cannot be misheard. You’ll know it’s them straight away from their wacky songwriting.
“Thick Skin” takes a turn just over the half way point from its strong momentum. Adrenaline pumped to begin with, the novelty of that wears off and it transforms into a mellow ambience before picking up the pace again. Title track “Too Much Tension”features the band in more of a funk-based limelight.
With it’s memorable guitar hook, there’s no tension within the song, and it cements an easy listening approach. Mixing an eerie sound with the psychedelia in “Watching the News Gives Me the Blues,” it’s still got a prominent 60s influence. Recognizing that this emotional track is slightly more downbeat than the other tracks, it feels that the band are showcasing another inspiration. A strong contender on the album, this track lingers around a lovely chord progression.
“It’s Alright” just may be the weakest song on the album because of its dry arrangement, but it still compliments the band’s sound. The final track, “Traces,” is one that you will remember forever. Soulful vocals, rhythmical bass lines, glittering guitar licks, and quiet drums describe The Mystery Lights sound only slightly. Not forgetting all of their influences, the band have an intricate atmosphere, and the album showcases their abilities down to a tee. For someone who walked into their music completely blind, their sound is just up my street and have gained a fan in me.