Album Reviews

The Orange Lights – Life Is Still Beautful

(Blackbird) UK release date: 18 June 2007

Orange lights mean one of two things to the average motorist, depending on what kind of person you are: as you are being warned to slow down, you should do so immediately so as to stop this side of the traffic lights, or that you should put your foot down and go faster, otherwise you’re going to get stuck this side of the traffic lights. Life Is Still Beautiful is music for the motorists who would not only never dream of jumping a red light, but would probably report the car in front of them for doing so.

God, but the Orange Lights are boring. I’m sorry, but do we really need an entire album of sub-interesting Coldplay-meets-James Blunt mope ballads? In case you were in any doubt, the answer is no.

Admittedly, there are more unpleasant sounds in the world. We need an album like this more than we need more death metal or eurodisco, but equally, what on earth is the point of it? Even when a few Roger Sanchez-eque beats arrive to break up the monotony on What’s Missing In Your Life (talent? charisma? good taste in music?) it works only to remind you that music can be more interesting when bands try to be something other than Keane‘s rather dull mate.

There are some redeeming features. Lead singer Jason Hart does have an interestingly distinctive drone of a voice, growly in the right places and actually quite suited to the musical style. The tracks do stand out from one another rather than collapsing into the same mediocre mess they threaten to at first, but none of them scream single, or even suggest that the second the CD finishes you’ll remember the slightest thing about them.

The Orange Lights describe themselves as “epic, widescreen, guitar soul”. They’re produced by Coldplay collaborator Ken Nelson, and Chris Potter, who has worked with Richard Ashcroft. This should give you a good idea of what their music is aiming for and what it partly achieves. Yes, they sound like Coldplay, but with most of the interesting bits taken away.

It’s genuinely hard, listening to this, to believe that Jason Hart has previously toured as a guitarist with Spiritualized. You’d have thought some of that band’s talent for epic soundscapes would have rubbed off on him, but no. When he uses the phrase “a mainstream Spiritualized” in a good way, you know this album has come from the soul of a man who has stood in the presence of Jason Spaceman thinking “this would be so much better if it sounded more like Coldplay” and has then made it so.

Can I damn it more? Co-songwriter and pianist Paul Tucker has previously penned songs for The Lighthouse Family. The. Lighthouse. Family. Let’s make Spiritualised sound more like The Lighthouse Family, shall we? Give me effing strength!

Some people like music like this. They are the ones who have 80GB iPods and the most expensive hi-fi system they can afford but who have never been to a live gig in their life and think Kurt Cobain should have cut his hair and tidied himself up a bit. They and The Orange Lights deserve each other.

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The Orange Lights – Life Is Still Beautful