Yorkshire based indie rock band Skylights have built a steady listening base over the years with their energetic and rousing instrumental style and wonderfully stirring and animated live performances. Their latest debut LP “What You Are” further cements the bands genre of anthemic and crowd-pleasing indie rock, filled with clever hooks and classic Brit-pop
Beginning with the opening track “Outlaw” which encompasses the energy of the best of the rest of the album this song almost feels straight from a The Cult album from the eighties. With this wonderfully nostalgic touch, almost theatrically thrilling instrumentals and lyrics about standing your ground and being the positive force you want to see in the world “Outlaw” is a track that will make you feel like the protagonist in your own movie listening to it. Although all the non-acoustic tracks on “What You Are” give off this vibe, I would say that this track is the one that absolutely epitomises it and pulls it off the best.
Following on from this is the coming-of-age soundtrack worthy song “Nothing Left To Say” which has a more sombre tone to the lyrics and rhythm but once again accompanied by the same energetic life force as the opener. With strong and passionate vocals merging with a catchy chorus and smooth song structure this track sounds professional and cleanly produced from start to finish. With tracks like these that have such excellent radio-playability it’s easy to see how Skylights have gained so much popularity. The production and mixing of all the tracks on “What You Are” is clear and crisp with no exception.
In “What You Are” another thing that Skylights does consistently well is take an emotion and put it into the music that they’re playing – lyrically and instrumentally. From the boldly anthemic nature of tracks like “Outlaw”, “Brittania” and “Enemies” to the heartfelt nature of tracks like “Take Me Somewhere”, “Lifeline” and “Nothing Left To Say” a praise you can’t deny Skylights is that their songs are all strongly emotive.
The track “YRA” stands out to me particularly because of its tense and suspenseful beat and guitar riff along with its climactic song structure – for these reasons it’s a personal favourite off the album for me. Songs like “Brittania” and “Enemies” are almost battle-cry like in their structure, lyricism and melodies. “Brittania” especially, originally written for the London Olympics hence its patriotic nature, is thunderous and powerful with repetitive lyrics giving it an almost war-chant energy.
Where the album falls down for me is in its acoustic tracks which to me sound rather formulaic and could do with some innovation adding – although I also see how if very classic acoustic rock-ballads are your thing they could be right up your street.
Overall, my main criticism of the album is that for the most part its tracks are pretty formulaic and some sound rather overly-familiar by the end of listening. However, because their songs are formed so well and are so musically cohesive this isn’t a huge issue. For fans of brit-pop influenced indie rock, I can’t see how this album could disappoint.
Skylights clearly know their genre and represent it perfectly, their emotive and raucous tunes fit the live indie-rock atmosphere without a doubt.