We have Liftoff (again)

Back, Brightside , and they've got it nailed
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  November 18, 2009

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SOUNDING YOUNGER? Lost on Liftoff. Photo: VISION FOR VIEWERS

If there is a constant that runs through Walt Craven's vocal and lyrical work from 6gig through Lost on Liftoff, it is his role as the impassioned voice of the underdog. Remember "Proud" from 6gig's Mind over Mind? "Thank you/For lying to my face/For wasting all my time/For being drunk again." There was a palpable anger that channeled itself right through Craven's fraying vocal chords and into your gut.

Maybe he's not so angry anymore. With the release of The Brightside, the first new work from Lost on Liftoff since 2007's Mixtape Blackouts, the band have made a decided if subtle turn away from fiercely aggressive rock (when 6gig launched, we were calling it nü metal) and moved toward the pop-flavored radio rock being purveyed by so many of the young touring bands nowadays, namely our own Sparks the Rescue (who themselves dropped the guttural screaming from their repertoire on their most recent album).

It is maybe most noticeable in Craven's vocals. Where once he would push himself to the breaking point on virtually every song, his voice wavering and quaking endearingly, like a reflection of his cracking and fragile soul, he here evinces a clean and crisp delivery, making him, if anything, sound younger.

He seems to be revisiting his youth in his songs' themes as well. The opening "Becoming Invisible" is classic adolescent escapism with a sharp all-stop leading into an "I wish I could just disappear" chorus. "The Day the Sun Forgot to Rise" is downright playful in its melody and ecstatic in its chorus: "You and me will always be together/At least until the sun forgets to rise" (this one can get in your head for a while). "Why Don't You Stay" is a narrative of a drunken hook-up's morning after: "There's a stranger in your bed/What did you think that you might say?/Feeling sober/Looking awful/Standing face to face." With a catchy introductory hook the song features radio rock's traditional quiet verse building into a big, bright chorus, but the bridge is the best part (the bridges are consistently the most interesting pieces of the eight songs here), with a crisp roll from Shane Kinney on the snare building into a throwback 6gig guitar riff with the lower crunch popping into a high whine, accompanied by a sneering solo from guitarist Ted Warner.

Warner's the new guy, actually, taking over for founding LoL member Nick Lamberto, who also handled some songwriting duties. Warner can rip out a solo, that's for sure. Maybe his best is in "Promises You Can't Keep," where he puts out quick, bright, and sunny work, but manages not to echo hair metal. Craven here is vulnerable and reserved: "I wish I could remember the last time that I felt good." Then the chorus fires in with pure pop: "Don't make me promises/Don't make me promises/Don't make me promises/Don't make me promises you can't keep."

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  Topics: CD Reviews , Adam Ayan, Walt Craven, Walt Craven,  More more >
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