Onstage, White Light Motorcade's singer, Harley Dinardo, grimaces with firebrand-punk intensity while his shag 'do shelters a pair of Hobbit eyes, perhaps revealing his sticky-sweet interior. It's a hard/soft contrast that underscores much of WLM's debut release, Thank You, Goodnight!: The album begins most dangerously with "Open Your Eyes," a glittering rock-rod of loud guitars, discordant drumming, and disgruntled vocals--par for the rock 'n' roll nihilism of the Big Apple, from which the foursome hails. Though the high-voltage sound doesn't stop after the first track, the band softens by album's end, declaring an allegiance to melodic pop-rock.
WLM's music is less a rock revival than a rallying cry of the beloved Manchester Beat, à la the Stone Roses and Ride. And yet, at times, a strange sweep of influences, from STP to the Cars to MC5, are within auditory reach. Musical mastermind Brad Jones (Cotton Mather, Imperial Drag), who's known for carving coarse material into polished gemstones, produced and mixed Goodnight, spotlighting the infectious vocals of frontman Dinardo and backup singer/guitarist Mark Lewis. The two musicians' sublime timbres achieve synergy on "My Way" and "On Top," both of which stand out in a jean-jacket-cool kind of way.
Ten of the 12 songs on this disc are filled with WLM's brash brand of Brit-edged pop, which lies somewhere between the wee hours of post-meridiem punk revelry and ante-meridiem mod-pop resolve. That leaves two slightly overindulgent love numbers: "All Gone Again" and "Closest." The former limps off toward the angsty rain-soaked climax of a sappy romance film, while the latter mopes, "This is the closest that I'll ever get/Nothing I could say could change the whole of it/So this is the closest I'll ever get," in bad Radiohead imitation. Neither song contains the sense of purpose--the harmonic stream running through hard rock terrain--as the others, making them seem like obligatory efforts to attract a rangier music audience. Still, WLM's rawk dynamism on the other tracks is bound to make a powerful first impression. Goodnight! has the kind of hook-laden songs that invite a listener to sing along with his innermost voice--even if he can't be heard over the avalanche of guitars.
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