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It's not uncommon for bands to set agendas for albums, be it getting a particular message across or sticking to a certain theme. We've even had albums where the rules are no tracks over a minute long, and The Raveonettes early albums had to have every song in the same key. San Francisco band City Light haven't been that specific, but their goal is "a ten-song reflection on love, loss, longing and hope set to a sonic mix of pop, electronica, rock and hip-hop", something you'd think would be achievable, but at what level and will it mean compromise in any way at all? None that you'd notice, plus they do manage to include the aforementioned genres to various degrees, and how many albums don't mention either some form of love or loss?
By their nature, City Lights are an indie-rock band, albeit an experimental one, and 'Memory Guide' runs through different aspects of this, so perhaps the best way to mark out the distinctions between their aims is to take each track individually. "Indie" is such a broad tern that it usually incorporates pop, electronica and rock is some for or other, so head for 'Devil In The Dark' (think The Postal Service covering The Beach Boys), or 'Sweet Death' which brings in a grungy vibe. It's perhaps this that fits the band best, as it's this sound that we hear on the standout 'Waste Away' which is classic '90s alt-rock. 'Wrecking Ball' is another guitar song, this time slower and gentler, but including a more eclectic production style that brings to mind sound-splicers such as Beck, and they employ the same technique on 'You Know This Song'.
Pushing the electronic side of pop a little more are 'Paranoid Kid' and 'Rewind Replay Repeat' which fits nicely into the current trend for sounds of this style and recalls Grandaddy. Hip-hop is a little tougher for a band of this style to include without sounding ham-fisted or out of their depth. So instead they drop in some bigger beats and concentrate on the production rather than rapping. 'Blurry Vision' does this very well, and the same goes for 'Memory Loss' which goes even deeper into the genre, just about managing to not interrupt the flow of the album. The best example of the band's vision coming to fruition is perhaps the fittingly-titled 'Cross The Lines' which collects together a little bit of everything. Overall the verdict has to be that 'Memory Guide' has completed its task with flying colours.
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