The Shiny Lights
The Album -
THE SHINY LIGHTS – M’AIDEZ
Album review by Jenny Tingle – Freelance writer and musician
M’aidez is a gem of an album. It’s infectiously sunny, but retrospective and wistful enough for a strong emotional connection with listeners. There’s a 70s Rock and psychedelic influence, and a pop/easy-listening vibe, all tempered with expert modern production. It also helps that The Shiny Lights are incredibly tight as a band. The result is a beautiful layered patina of sounds, with every musician expertly giving each other enough space to shine.
Award-winning singer, John Eller and Chris Lynch (both guitar, keys and vocals) are the band’s founding members. They have a powerful songwriting chemistry, having played together previously. Steve Price (bass, vocals) and Noah Levy (drums, percussion) complete this accomplished line-up. All musicians from the busy Twin Cities music scene in Minnesota, their paths crossed numerous times over the years until they formed The Shiny Lights. And I’m glad that they did!
This Vintage Rock-Pop hybrid band is impossible not to like.
As an album, M’aidez is a superb collection of songs. Opening track, “The Saturday Sun (Is Killing Me)” is narrowly my favourite. A delightfully off-kilter keys intro sets the tone for what’s to come. Throughout the album, there’s a surreal sense of weightlessness in the music. A humorously involuntary happiness which the band realise perfectly.
Rock music is a habitually macho genre, and the sound of The Shiny Lights is refreshingly endearing.
I really enjoyed the smooth keys and slinky guitar solos of “Water on Water”, the intelligent storytelling of “Playing Heart and Soul”, “Kind of Blue’s” understated Hard Rock vibe. And how “Crack in the hourglass” is bounced along by a gently impatient bass line.
M’aidez has a great flow from start to finish. The song arrangements are intricate, but the polished performances and production make it very easy music to listen to.
Bright piano parts are reminiscent of Electric Light Orchestra, and Beatles-esque vocal harmonies hang in the air during bridge sections before finding the energy to carry on. There’s also a sense of smiling tragedy akin to music by Elliot Smith.
A lot of attention has been paid to detail, with subtle drum parts and tasteful solos throughout songs. I hear something new every time I listen.
Final track, “Psychedelic Girl From The Underground’s” drifting, hazy keys and handheld tambourine invoke a sense of intimacy. It’s a song which big and small venues alike must go crazy for. This last song brings M’aidez gently back down to earth. It’s easy to imagine that “Psychedelic Girl” might be a popular encore for the band - and it’s a fitting end to a five-star album.