Review: The Flatliners – ‘Inviting Light’
Canadian quartet The Flatliners have released their latest album Inviting Light on Rise Records in conjunction with Dine Alone Records on April 7th marking their first release after 5 albums with Fat Wreck Chords. After almost 4 years of touring, writing, breaks to focus on family and regrouping on direction, this latest release proves to be the closest to home for the boys from the Flats. Described as a bit of a left turn, the record explores a richer more alternative sound throughout blended with the melodies familiar from previous records with a taste of 90’s influences. 12 tracks grace the album, each song carrying its own statement and delivering satisfying melody.
The Flatliners are definitely one of the most influential bands to enter the punk rock world for more than a decade, and it has been go go go since the beginning for the Ontario based 4 piece. This album is already making waves in the music scene and is perhaps the most polarizing release since the beginning of their career. That’s not to say that the record is any less full of the spirit and energy that the band is known for, in fact I believe this particular release to be the most energetic record in regards the message that the band delivers here. At first glance, you don’t seem to be listening to a punk rock record right off the bat. The guitar tones, base lines, and vocal delivery carry a very different approach in production. Delving into territory not yet explored, Inviting Light offers a full sounding and all encompassing record pulling from all corners of music, and puts an unexpected twist to many of the songs present on the record. “Unconditional Love” is one of the tracks that stand out to me as being ‘out there’ so to speak. Fuzz distortion, and Chris Cresswells growls add a particularly great track that reminded me of a PIXIES influence. Now before you get out the pitchforks and the torches and tattle to the music police for what I just said here, give it a listen and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s so damn good. Maybe I’m biased, (and I don’t care) but it’s one of my favorite tracks off the album.
When we talk about what makes a ‘punk rock’ record, sometimes we get stuck on the same old hamster wheel of these three rules: Fast, Loud, Repeat. Instead, what Inviting Light gives us is a true punk rock record in the spirit of ‘we are doing whatever the hell we want to do’, and that spirit resonates loud and clear throughout the entire playlist. I will admit, that I needed to listen to the record a few times over to give myself an honest conclusion, but I found that the more that I listened to it, the more I enjoyed what The Flatliners were going for. Music on their terms, under no pigeonholed direction to appease a niche crowd. Inviting Light is not at all a departure of what The Flatliners have done, it is a refining of what they continue to do, and is an explosive expression of their experiences together both on the road, and on the home front. It’s a refreshing new take on what they already do so well on record and on stage.
Notable tracks on the record are “Human Party Trick” which is perhaps the most familiar in tone to previous songs released by the band. “Indoors” is a killer song with so much feeling behind the music. By the time you hear the chorus of “whoas” before being led into the chorus, you can’t help but try to sing along even if you don’t know the lyrics. “Sympathy Vote” again mixes up the tune of the record by its build up throughout the song. Paul Ramirez drum rolls and steady rhythm provide a fantastic compliment to Chris Cresswells unmistakable vocal push through the track. “Wedding Speech” is all sorts of awesome, delayed open chords, well placed backup chorus to mainline vocals are all here and mix together beautifully. “Chameleon Skin” although feeling somewhat alien to the rest of the songs, is the perfect addition to this record to shake things up. One of the things that I loved about this track , is the honest expression and self reflective message conveyed by looking at the past, and not wanting to remember who you’ve been.
Inviting Light is an album of growth for The Flatliners, and marks a milestone for the band and the boys collectively. The move to Rise Records was a pivotal point for the band and makes sense for the release of inviting Light. If there is one thing to take away from this record, it’s that The Flatliners are nowhere near done doing what they love. This is a new chapter for the boys, and Inviting Light is an invitation to the fans to go with them on the journey and enjoy one helluva ride. No, this record is not like ‘old Flatliners’. But then again, if that’s what you want to hear, then you can always put those records on and listen to them instead. Don’t miss out on this one guys. It kicks so much ass.
Inviting Light was released on April 7th through Rise Records and Dine Alone records.