Hit The Lights – Invicta

Proof That There is Life After Pop Punk

Hit The Lights-Invicta-ReviewRelease Date: January 31, 2012
Label: Razor & Tie
Rocks Like: Set Your Goals, Valencia, and Anberlin
Recommended Track(s): Gravity, Take Control
Rating: ****

It had been 4 years since the 2008 release of Hit The Lights last album Skip School, Start Fights, some people argue that, “this is far too long, and possibly just enough time for the majority of the music world to stop caring about you and start listening to Skrillex” (Nate Skalab from The Alternative Review). Yet, I’d have to disagree, Hit The Lights and their ever catchy, sugar coated pop punk held their place not only on my ipod but also in my heart. It’s that music you throw on, on a perfect blue-sky summer day, that music that reminds you of every good day you ever had with your friends drinking and causing trouble in the hallways of your high school. Its also the kind of music that if you put on once you should well expect it to be stuck in your head for the following week, the melodies are catchy and the lyrics will have you singing along for days.

Well the Hit The Lights boys have graduated from those days and are all grown up now.

“Invicta caught us all a little off guard, but definitely in a good way, proving that there is life after pop punk.”

It’s nice to see a natural development of sound coming from a band, no awkward forced changes, no desperation of clinging to a sound that no longer works, just natural spontaneous progression. Face it; eventually you can’t drop the girl anymore, because you’re in fact married with children.

Although it seems at first that Hit The Lights have gone on somewhat of a hiatus for the past four years there has been a lot going on behind the curtains of major label Universal Republic (3 Doors Down, Anberlin, Owl City, Lil’ Wayne). Nick Thompson and the boys had tried to begin writing what was to become the Invicta album but were faced with the usual drama of major label woes encouraging them to be themselves all the while suggesting that perhaps, just perhaps they sound more like one of many already successful top 40 radio alternative bands. In early 2011 the label underwent some massive restructuring and the band asked for and were granted an escape from their contract in May 2011. From there they signed with Razor & Tie who allowed them to write their album the way they wanted to – from the heart.

As much as everyone enjoyed the first two Hit The Light albums, the boys found the scene surrounding their pop-punk tracks a little too superficial for their liking, claiming, “It was all just tight jeans and Nikes.” Going into writing Invicta they weren’t trying to shy away from pop punk, but instead looking to be themselves and create something more honest and wholesome. The sounds throughout the album are clean, organic, and much more natural, all the while still holding true to the powerful signature sound of Hit The Lights. As an album, Invicta is much more dynamic, and multidimensional in comparison to its angsty, riffy, neon-induced predecessors. The album is a perfect collection of songs that will both please old fans while attracting an entirely new crowd.

The song list is strong and hard-hitting, exactly what we would expect from an album with collaborations from pop-punk legends Ryan Key of Yellowcard, Tim Pagnotta of Sugarcult, Kenny Vasoli of The Starting Line and a little mellower touch from Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin.

From the thunderous drumbeat of track 1 Invincible, the album had me captivated. The song is powerful, and holds the perfect lyrical comparison between the feeling of taking the stage and the feeling of attempting to achieve great things. The orchestral chanting throughout the song lends a perfect open to the album. Leading into Gravity, a song full of raw pop-punk energy, and adorable intergalactic romantic lyrics. Songs throughout the album are charming and really play to the bands strengths creating a more moving experience. Should’ve Known holds by far my favourite line on the album. An end of the world song of desperation, moody guitars and the line “I don’t care where we head, or whether we melt or freeze to death” holds intrigue far beyond efforts of earlier albums.

The second to last song on the album and my favourite track Take Control seems to be a step backwards reminding us all of where Hit The Lights came from. Ending the collection is the most unexpected sound on the album. Oh My God is a slower, soft and dreamy song, which is gentle and airy, before transcending into a very beautiful crashing breakdown. The song is enchanting and lovely, ended by the line, “oh my god, I found hell in you.”

On the whole I love the new direction from Hit The Lights, they have evolved in an unexpected way that will allow them to continue making records for years to come. Invicta is one of those albums that I can listen to over and over, and still hear something new each and every time.

Track Listing:
1. Invincible
2. Gravity
3. Earthquake
4. So Guilty
5. Get to You
6. Float Through Me
7. Should’ve Known
8. All the Weight
9. Faster Now
10. Take Control
11. Oh My God

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