Album Reviews

Headlights – Some Racing, Some Stopping

(Polyvinyl) UK release date: 10 March 2008

Heavenly. That’s your first impression when you pop Some Racing, Some Stopping into the CD tray. Fiddle through the booklet and you discover that Amelia Fletcher isn’t on here anywhere. Not Heavenly then, but something similar.

Hailing from Illinois Headlights are about a twee as you can get without the certainty that glitter will spill from the CD case every time you open it. So this is not a rock ‘n’ roll record; that would scare the bunnies after all. It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that this is Glock(enspiel) ‘n’ Roll. That’s it nestled in the perfectly balanced production, alongside a bit of accordion and something that sounds like sleigh bells.

This is an album that is practically impossible not to like such is its evident warmth and sheer prettiness. Try listening to the sweet vocals of Erin Fein and not falling in love. Try to ignore the fact that these songs sound like some of the most gorgeous things ever made and you will find that you will fail. Certain things irritate a little bit.

Tristan Wraight’s vocals come through as too laid back and dreamy at times, particularly when the band tries to introduce a little bit of shoegaze into proceeding (as on School Boys). Then again when you’ve got the perfect ’60s pop of Towers with a sultry vocal from Fein such trivial matters cease to exist.

There are times when Headlights would do well to stop being so nice, but then a string arrangement crops up and elevates the song beyond a sweet sugary base into something much more.

There’s even something of danceable tune in the shape of Catch Them All, whose funked up Motown bass line somehow sounds like a nursery school Magic Numbers. It comes complete with a smart little surf guitar break, it’s as if they’ve got all the bases covered.

Yet there’s something still amiss, quite what that might be is hard to ascertain, but not one of these songs manages to lodge itself in your head. You don’t find yourself shopping humming a tune and realising it’s the vocal line to On April 2 (a song which reeks of Rilo Kiley, incidentally).

When you’re listening to Some Racing, Some Stopping you’re caught up in a safe, warm, fluffy little world. It’s only when you get back to harsh reality you realise that Headlights haven’t really written much in the way of hooks. But when you’re hidden under a blanket with the lights out and your favourite soft toy under your arm while Some Racing, Some Stopping Plays it doesn’t matter, because you’ve found something heavenly.

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Headlights – Some Racing, Some Stopping