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Album Review: Inviting Light by The Flatliners

Guest Review by Rik Sharma

“Make the Flatliners ska again,” joked the Canadian four-piece a few months ago on social media. Some fans will settle for “make the Flatliners fast again”. Out on April 7, Inviting Light, their first release through Rise Records, is a departure from what has come before. The sometimes-breakneck, always-wired signature sound is for the most part brushed under a carpet.

Somewhere between punk rock and melodic hardcore, The Flatliners have been hard to pin down, but with the fury stripped from their music—this album touches on passive-aggressive at best—they have strayed into the more general category of rock.

‘Nicotine Lips’ draws on the zest that brought The Great Awake [2007] and Cavalcade [2010] to life, those albums not just crashing through the door but knocking it from its hinges. But it is a rare moment of familiarity on a record that trudges across new, mellower territory. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The hopeful ‘Human Party Trick’ does, the dull ‘Unconditional Love’ does not. Opening track ‘Mammals’ drags out an extended intro, setting the [lack of] pace for the album, while ‘Hang My Head’ exemplifies how a slower Flatliners isn’t necessarily a worse Flatliners.

“Help me peel my eyes awake,” growls Chris Cresswell on ‘Burn Out Again’. “It feels like someone pissed in my veins.” The grizzle of everyday life seeps through the album.

‘Wedding Speech’ fizzes but ‘Chameleon Skin’, five minutes long, outstays its welcome. For those who were sucker-punched by ‘Blood’ on Cavalcade or the raw ‘July August Reno’ on its predecessor, it will be hard to believe this is the same band.

But the Flatliners should not be begrudged this change in sound. They have chipped away for more than a decade at the scene and enjoyed solid, if not roaring, success. Previous release Dead Language [2013] was not far removed from their earlier work and showed they had exhausted their possibilities as things stood.

Innovation was needed, but there are as many misses as there are hits on Inviting Light. It works as something of a breather for the band, striding out into uncertainty after leaving Fat Wreck Chords. It will prove to be so, quite literally, during live sets—a break from the at-times relentless drive offered by the collection of tunes they piled up before this.

 

AD Rating: 6/10

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