Light Years – I Won’t Hold This Against You
Record Label: Paper and Plastick
Release Date: June 18th 2013
Last month, I got an email from the Paper + Plastick Digital Subscription Series, and it was for the most recent EP Parking Lots by Ohio pop-punk outfit Light Years, whom I was recently acquainted with. The EP was only three songs, and it served as a double-single for debut record, I Won’t Hold This Against You. The EP featured two songs from the record, “Parking Lots” and “Put Yourself Together” along with an acoustic version of the latter track. As an 8-minute EP, it was great for what it was. It was almost like a sampler EP, so to speak. It didn’t feel like a complete EP, or a single, but rather, it was merely a three-song sampler, if you’re new to the band and/or excited for their new record. It was a nice EP that really made me excited for the record. I have been meaning to review it, but I’ve been focused on new releases by The Almost, City and Colour, Eisley, I the Mighty, and a few other bands. The last coupe weeks have seen a lot of new releases, so it kind of went over my head. Thankfully, debut record I Won’t Hold This Against You is finally out, so I can just review this inside of the Parking Lots EP. The question is, where do I begin with this record? Fellow Ohio pop-punk band Citizen also released their debut record Youth a week prior, but I’ve only gotten to listen to it a few days prior to listening to this record. To be honest, though, this doesn’t even feel like a debut record. That’s how great it is. This band knows what they’re doing, right from the get go. It’s apparent on opening track, “Uphill Battles.” The track begins with drummer Kent Sliney building up the track as guitarists Andrew Foerst and Pat Kennedy, who is also the vocalist, join in to compliment Sliney’s drumming. Right from the start, Kennedy’s lyrics take the listener by storm. Most pop-punk bands have lyrics about how awful girls are, or how much they love their friends, but this band doesn’t do that. There’s a lyric in “Uphill Battles” that is repeated a lot throughout the song, “There’s a fire in my chest / It’s burning me / And I don’t want to put it out.” It’s lyrics like these that make up the whole record; they actually talk about real things, and although girls and friends are real thing, those are topics that are covered way too often.
While the opening track “Uphill Battles” sounded more like Transit, second track (and single) “Parking Lots” is a much more by the books pop-punk number. Despite that, it’s still very enjoyable. This is one of my favorite tracks, because it’s a nostalgia-inducing track that talks about how Kennedy would hang out with friends in parking lots back when he didn’t have a care in the world, but now he’s getting older, and that realization is hard to deal with. I told you that this band talked about “real” stuff, and they really do. A song later, “Put Myself Together” is another album highlight. It was the second single that was on the Parking Lots EP along with the track of the same name. It starts off as an instrumental, but around 45 seconds in, Kennedy’s vocals come in, and really bring the song together. Afterwards, a one-two punch comes in the form of “Deadlines” and “Ringing In My Ears.” The former is one of my favorite tracks on the record, and it’s another example of how the lyrics are the driving force of this record. “Parking Lots” was a very nostalgic song, in the sense that it was all about the past, this song really brings that theme full circle, with Kennedy proclaiming: “I wish I was still eighteen / And life was like a movie / Except I’d never have to leave / But now I’m getting close to thirty / And life keeps playing dirty.” These lyrics may not be the best lyrics ever written, but they’re so relatable, it’s ridiculous. Even the simplest lyrics can have such a huge impact, and these lyrics do that. The latter has even more very emotional and relatable lyrics, this time at a couple of different points in the song. The first line occurs right in the beginning with, “Yeah I’m a pessimist / Apathetic and arrogant / But that’s who I’m always been.” It’s a very hardhitting line, because it shows how self-aware Kennedy is. The second moment that stands out is when Kennedy says, “And I know they’re making room in hell for us.” What makes this moment stand out is how he repeats it over and over. No, it’s not to the point where it’s annoying, but he repeats it when the guitars are blaring, but suddenly, the tempo changes a couple times later, and he says again much softer. Ultimately, it makes a lasting impact on the listener, because it’s repeated with a variety of sounds.
If you thought this record couldn’t get any better, next track “Hindsight” starts off with an acoustic guitar and a bass guitar. It’s one of the most interesting songs I’ve ever heard, because it’s nothing I’ve ever heard. Lyrically, this song is about acceptance, with Kennedy singing about being at his father’s grave and realizing that we all up in the same place. It’s a very dark acceptance, but contrasted with the light and bouncy instrumentation, it works very well. The last few songs on the record continue their very enjoyable brand of pop-punk, and it ends with the title track, which ends out the album wonderfully, and even bridging the entire theme of the record together. In my eyes, the record’s name, along with the title track, are about not holding someone’s past against them. Kennedy speaks a lot about being afraid of growing up, and making realizations that we all end up in a grave and there’s nothing we can do about it all, so he’s trying to say that he won’t hold anyones’ pasts against them, because it won’t do any good in the end. As I said earlier in the review, this really doesn’t feel like a debut record. This isn’t a band that’s trying to become the next Blink-182, or talking about how much girls suck, or whatever, but there’s actually something to take from this record. While they don’t do anything differently in the instrumentation department, it still has enough variety to keep the listener interested throughout the record. This record is easily one of the most impressive debut records I’ve heard this year, and maybe even the last few years.