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City Lights - The Way Things Should Be Album Cover

City Lights - The Way Things Should Be

Reviewed by
6.0
City Light - The Way Things Should Be
Record Label: In Vogue
Release Date: December 10, 2013
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
In 2009 City Lights would’ve been huge. That was the year of easycore, of pop-punk bands trying to be hardcore bands following the moderate success of such bands as Set Your Goals and Four Year Strong. The Way Things Should Be, at its core, is a pop-punk album, although it may dress itself in the skins of a hardcore album. While that’s not inherently a bad thing (I love both aforementioned easycore heavyweights), this album happens to mesh the worse aspects of both genres to make an ultimately forgettable and derivative record.

"Promises” probably gives the best taste of the album in less than three and a half minutes. A catchy riff gives way to slightly whiny verses, then into a sugary hook, then repeat verse/chorus, and awkwardly placed and unnecessary breakdown with ridiculously cheesy shouting and gang vocals. Maybe that heavy bridge wouldn’t seem so out-of-place was it not sandwiched between two decidedly pop-punk choruses – it’d be like if Man Overboard attempted to cover an A Day to Remember song. This structure is in place for a great many of the songs, which certainly doesn’t lend itself to a diverse listening experience. Add to this the band’s trite lyrics (“Let’s face it, you’re the worst person I’ve ever met,” “I won’t let the mistakes I’ve made tear my life apart,” the entirety of “The Dark Side,” which is literally about Star Wars), and City Lights have crafted a totally by-the-numbers pop-punk/“hardcore” album.

That said, there are still some bright spots, few though they may be. There are sparing moments in which City Lights sound less Me Vs. Hero and more like (get ready) Midtown. When they’re on, I swear they’re on. “See You at the Top” has a hook that could’ve been taken straight from Living Well is the Best Revenge. Unquestionably, the best song offered is “Leaving Here,” a bona fide pop-punk anthem right out of 2002. Aside from being marred by the horrifically predictable opening line, “I’ve had enough of being trapped/ in the town I’m from,” the song is nearly free of all typical tropes. It even features a reference to Saves the Day’s best song in its memorable hook. This song has no gimmicky breakdown, no mosh-call – if The Way Things Should Be was full of songs like this, it could easily be one of the genre’s best releases all year.

But alas, it is not. It’s a rather generic, flat album that falls prey to the pop-punk pitfalls of blurring together and sticking to tired lyrical themes (which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t executed so poorly). There’s definitely promise shown here though. City Lights swung and missed this time, but maybe LP3 will redeem them – they’re capable of great things.

6/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 15
11:01 AM on 12/20/13
#2
colorfast
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Agree with pretty much everything you said here and the score is spot on. It's a fun album, and will be a good one for the Summer, but the lyrics can really drag some songs down. I do like the higher singer on The Dark Side though. I wish they would add more of that to other songs.
12:00 PM on 12/20/13
#3
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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Agree with pretty much everything you said here and the score is spot on. It's a fun album, and will be a good one for the Summer, but the lyrics can really drag some songs down. I do like the higher singer on The Dark Side though. I wish they would add more of that to other songs.

Nice, glad you agree. Pretty sure that's the guy from A Loss for Words.
01:29 PM on 12/20/13
#4
stopshootrepeat
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Nice, glad you agree. Pretty sure that's the guy from A Loss for Words.
Isn't it their guitarist? AL4W's vocalist sings on another track.
01:39 PM on 12/20/13
#5
OpenIntro
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Unquestionably? I question it sir. What now?
01:41 PM on 12/20/13
#6
caraballo
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You should of mentioned how cornball and cliched the lyrics on this album are
01:57 PM on 12/20/13
#7
johnbrauer
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I think you're undermining this album a little. Very few bands are still playing easycore at this point, and this album has songs that rival the heavy-hitters from 2006-2009. I'd only fault it on cliche lyrics.
09:06 PM on 12/20/13
#8
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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Isn't it their guitarist? AL4W's vocalist sings on another track.

Oh, you could be right. You probably are
09:09 PM on 12/20/13
#9
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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You should of mentioned how cornball and cliched the lyrics on this album are

I did - had a few parenthetical notes and such. I didn't want to be too harsh.
09:10 PM on 12/20/13
Zac Djamoos
fantasizing the sight of manhattan
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I think you're undermining this album a little. Very few bands are still playing easycore at this point, and this album has songs that rival the heavy-hitters from 2006-2009. I'd only fault it on cliche lyrics.

I was never in love with easycore to begin with - honestly I do think this band does it better than many others. But I just don't think it's still that good.
09:30 AM on 12/21/13
Avalanche1
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It's a decently catchy album and it's fun, but I feel like they could have done a lot better. Sounds like a lot of the same stuff that they've done in the past.
10:42 PM on 12/21/13
MyFriendsOver
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I'm not sure what the first sentence of this review is hoping to communicate. City Lights were around in 2009, playing the exact style of music described in this review, and they were not huge.
12:21 PM on 12/22/13
TDenverFan
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Their first album was a lot better IMO. That one I'd have given a 7-8/10, this one is more like a 5/10 to me
11:19 PM on 12/22/13
skoopy48
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I thought this improved upon their debut and branched out a little.
10:11 PM on 12/29/13
Vance Mook
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Awesome review - record is just comfortably bland and not very good.

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