To end another wonderful decade of great music, I’m going to write about ten albums from each of the last ten years, that are either great, or hold some sort of personal significance. A musical kiss off to 00s.
2001 – #6. The Flashing Lights – Sweet Release
I was a huge fan of the Canadian band Sloan, and the bands in their circle – anything on Murderrecords, or from the Halifax pop scene. One of those bands were the The Super Friendz, who broke up in 1997, and lead Friend Matt Murphy had moved onto the Flashing Lights. Sweet Release is their second and last album.
You know, this album did not alter the course of popular music. It wasn’t even that popular in Canada. No wikipedia page, no myspace…barely any record that this band ever existed is in question. I’m not being obscurist – someone had to hear it for it to be obscure. Being obscure is having those albums that are actually valuable on Ebay. This is one of the couple of hundred albums I bought that year, and it’s just really good.
At it’s heart, it’s just really fun. Murphy’s guitar playing and energy was all over their debut album (Where the Change Is), but this was more laid back. It was definitely retro – a early 70s guitar record vibe. Somewhere between T. Rex and Todd Rundgren. Even the album cover – it’s colour, the font… I always wanted this on vinyl.
The record opens with Been Waiting, a slowly chugging groove with an ironic lyric about being the kings of the Canadian scene (“I’m late for my limousine ride”). Through the couple of singles – Same Things Twice – a super fun rocker, and Friends You Love To Hate – a more studied song but just as fun. There’s not a bad song of course, but special notice for Same Old Life, the only really acoustic/ballady song of their short career.
Lyrically it’s quite simple. The riffs, the arrangements – they’re clever but not groundbreaking. It’s not what this album was about. It’s the fun you know all about. It’s the old friend you get along with straight away. There’s something to be said about those kinds of records.
The Flashing Lights no longer exist. I doubt Murphy ever performs these songs anymore. But I have the record. And I have the memory of a drive in the outer suburbs of Perth, looking for a copy of the Only Ones on vinyl, where we listened to this album, windows down, on a hot day. I’m pretty happy with that.