ALBUM REVIEW: THE CITY LIGHTS – I JUST GOT TO BELIEVE

In 2008 they wrote it and then they played it live in 2009. It was recorded and mixed in 2010 and 2011. Now in 2012 the answer to this riddle is finally here. It is The City Lights’ third album I Just Got To Believe. The record is an absolute corker, a red-hot scorcher that could’ve been named El Sol if the group hadn’t already got in and called their sophomore album that.

The City Lights are one spirited and resilient bunch. The band has boasted members of groups as diverse as The Drums, Youth Group, Hoolahan, Sidewinder, Rocket Science and Peabody over the years. But now the dust appears to have settled on the current line-up and has enabled them to make a great rock album. It’s a refreshing look back at a particular chapter in musical history and a welcome change from all the technological wizardry (read: barrage of synths) that seem like the relentless order of the present day.

The ten tracks clock in at just 24 minutes. The songs are short, sharp and almost primal in their arrangements. The music is full of guts and hooks you quickly thanks to its heavy throttle and sheer immediacy. The set is essentially a visceral one that gets into your lungs, forcing you to scream as it simultaneously makes your heart swell.

The opening, title track is reminiscent of a Dallas Crane number and it wastes no time in charming the listener. It’s this power that makes it seem like a perfect “hit-in-the-making”. The intense energy of the start is also repeated into the single, “Without People You’re Nothing” where tight, three-piece rock prevails. The opening drum roll reminds us of The Clash’s “Janie Jones” as it goes on to describe the rather basic human need for love and understanding.

“What Does It Take” has British blues rock ‘n’ roll written into almost every pore. One listen reveals The Stones’ bite, while another spin returns The Yardbirds in gusto. It is unsurprising really, when you consider that the band’s real-life brothers James and Harry Roden (guitars and bass, respectively) grew up listening to this sort of music from the sixties and seventies.

I Just Got To Believe is about a group that are doing what they love and it should earn the boys more than a few new fans for their troubles. It’s also a testament to the power of resilience and about a good F. This album comes brimming with three of them: fury, fun and fast moments, meaning with so many highlights this record will revitalise your love and belief in rock. Hallelujah!

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