I hate using the term “rock” to attribute a genre to a band or a release; it comes across so middle of the road. However, The Flatliners’ Inviting Light seems to nail on the head what happens when you make a rock record that doesn’t just meander between boring and uninspired. With this release however, The Flatliners leave behind a lot of the punk hallmarks from their previous releases spanning over their fifteen year long career, the band now opt for the clear rock sound, whilst keeping chunks of their punchier releases and those of their musical peers.
This being said, there’s also something missing too, something that causes the record to fall short of that Flatliners’ sound. The sheer urgency from their last four full lengths is gone, and what’s left is a slower, more mellow record. You need not despair however, unless you want a punk album that is, what’s left is well polished and is far from a snorefest.
Human Party Trick has a great guitar tone, and even echoes melodic hardcore outfit, Being As An Ocean, and it really does provide a nice melody in the guitar work, yet rather than the hardcore/ska punk of the band’s early days, they come across more like mid nineties indie rock like Plumtree. Vocalist Chris Cresswell still gets a decent rasp on his vocals in parts and while it isn’t heavy by comparison to the other bands work, we still get some heavy hitting guitar for the record.
The record mellows out on penultimate track, Chameleon Skin, with minimalist instrumentation to begin with. An acoustic guitar with soft, and sparse support comes from a glittery electric guitar under Cresswell’s vocals. The track gets more depth with the introduction of bass from Jon Darbey, with the choruses seeing the most instrumentation, until just before the track fades out, the track even getting some light drumming. If you wanted an example, here is the best track to demonstrate Inviting Light being a far cry from their older material.
Opener Mammals is a very strong track, and one of the quicker tracks on the record. Each instrument comes together cohesively to create a well rounded track below the various members vocal harmonies. While it doesn’t necessarily suggest what is to come on the rest of the album, it kicks off the record’s new, calm direction, easing the listener in before some of the records softer tracks.
The album itself is a well rounded, and brilliantly polished both in technical skill and production. However while Inviting Light is a compilation of great rock songs, some more boisterous than others, it still falls short of the authenticity that I feel The Flatliners have had at heart throughout their previous releases. However this could be picked up again with the next release from the band by adapting it to bridge between their previous material and Inviting Light, as the record just feels like a certain spirit of the band is absent.