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Music  |  Reviews

Headlights: Wildlife

[Polyvinyl]

October 16, 2009  |  9:04am
Headlights: <em>Wildlife</em>

There is absolutely nothing to dislike about the latest album by Champaign’s fizziest indie rockers, Headlights. The doe-eyed, co-ed torch singing; the politely raucous sheens of analog organ and electric guitar; the careful balance of drifty ballads and peppy rockers—it all amounts to forty-minute come-hither.

Why, then, does it feel kind of low-impact, despite being crammed with swoon-worthy gambits? The steady kick-drum finally slicing into the thick melody of “Telephones,” the keen handclaps and tangled-neon guitar leads of “Secrets,” the towering crunch of “I Don’t Mind at All” — none of it sounds as exciting as it should. The well-established indie-pop tricks get results, but are too unerringly calculated to have much distinct personality. Some big, billowy production would have helped. These takes have immediacy but makes Wildlife sound like music for people who want to like Stars (or Beach House, on the slow numbers), but find them a little too hardcore.

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