Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, and featuring ALO’s Steve Adams on bass, Big Light makes quite a promising noise on their debut. Mixing a sound that links garage bands, New York Dolls, Wilco, Australia’s psychedelic popsters The Church, Blur/Oasis, and the Stones’ Glimmer Twins in the mid-‘70s (if Keith had skipped his heavy smack period), the quartet create a remarkably refined and coherent cacophony, which is also rooted in 21st century terms. Light shines from the darkness, and tunes resonate here with a fresh approach firmly rooted in some sort of cosmically-accurate rock template.
“Caution,” two-thirds of the way through this surprisingly beautiful and rambunctious ten-song set, is the highpoint, reaching a fine bend in the patterns reaching across the wall, until a kaleidoscopic image forms, dissipates, and then reappears as a visual echo from some other portrait long gone. The song captures the band’s purpose, and pushes the album’s theme into context with images of lost and found bliss, close and far, large and tiny, while never losing that focal point in the distance. Yeah, indie ear candy rules the modern era—_“Heavy as a levee, but I feel no pain for you,”_ but let’s just rock, man.
Sometimes, the band ends up waltzing in one spot. Entropy cripples “Heavy,” before it finally hits some sort of classic rock jam terrain. “Bonebreaker” is an odd gem that could have been forged by another Northern California resident, Neil Young, with its heavy distortion and fuzz guitars wrapped up in a longer piece, showcasing the possible heady detours this band probably finds in a live environment, too.
Everywhere, words are sparse, and riffs are potent, bereft of an obnoxious in-your-face attitude. Songs are also filled with a shooter’s conviction—target found, sighted, aimed at, trigger pulled, and, alas, one moves on to find something else to push into deep focus.
Big Light does the de rigueur lo-fi well, romping through twin stop-time thrashers that offer wallop and hook alike on “Monster” and “Triceratops” in some sort of prehistoric head(bang?) nod—wedded with frontman/singer/songwriter/guitarist Fred Torphy’s almost British-angst-riddled twang, it grooves above the surface.
But, the quartet, rounded out by Jeremy Korpas on guitar, and Bradley Bifulco on drums, also find a way into scenic ambient valleys. “Partner” is a five-and-a-half-minute slice of forest-y psychedelia, while “Departed” shimmers with an alt-post-melancholic vibe, and “Rainbow Eyes” glides throughout the ozone with a spatial anomaly, neither here nor over the fuck there in the memory box of exquisite corpses, just abstract beauty coming together in a primeval dance of acoustic and electric on an eyebrow-raiser of an album.