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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Music Review: Album drapes dark visuals over ethereal soundtrack

Photo courtesy of Island Records A City By The Light Divided” was recorded in New York over the span of several months and released in 2006. It received a primarily positive response from critics.

alyson Oliver
senior editor

Photo courtesy of Island Records

New Jersey-born rock band Thursday’s fourth album, “A City By The Light Divided,” is the band at its most ethereal.

Listeners are immersed in layers of delicate guitar backed by overdriven bass. The lyrics paint pictures of stormy skies, pounding hearts and the mangled metal of a high-speed crash.

Macabre disaster is a running theme throughout the record. Even its explosive opening track, “The Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (Of Control),” was partly inspired by a car accident lead vocalist Geoff Rickly’s friend was involved in when he was younger, as he described in an interview.

“Counting 5-4-3-2-1” paints a picture of an impending train accident (“The train is catching up, keep on running, don’t look back”) — a scene revisited later on in “Running From the Rain” (“There is blood on the tracks tonight”).

And in “At This Velocity,” the clear standout of the tracklist, an airplane catapults from the sky (“Traveling at 500 feet per second / 5,000 feet from the ground”). Urgent, fast-paced guitar, a drum break and a couple of tempo changes all build toward an epic ending, where eerily serene vocals narrate as the passengers come to terms with the end, all layered over a wall of glowing, heart-pumping sound.

The album’s power lies in its atmospheric moments such as the end of “At This Velocity,” or the fake-out near the middle of “The Other Side of the Crash/Over and Out (Of Control),” or the reverb-laden, tremolo-picked guitars in “The Lovesong Writer.”

“Sugar in the Sacrament” opens with an immersive blend of pad, keyboard and guitar that reappears as the song crescendos and decrescendos. Its choruses explode with powerful, delayed guitar, and its lyrics paint a picture of intimacy as a religious experience.

Some of the record’s punchier moments are in “Running From the Rain” and “Telegraph Avenue Kiss,” which transition seamlessly from one to the other, and “Into the Blinding Lights” hits a consistent high note when it comes to energy levels.

Almost every track stands strong on its own. However, put together, it’s obvious many of them follow the same formula: a build-up to an explosive beginning, a moment of respite near the middle and a huge ending. The lines between them start to blur, and the record could have been a bit shorter.

“Autumn Leaves Revisited,” with its haunting musical composition and lyrics (“Did a violin swell those circles under your eyes?”) could have been a great closer. “Even the Sand Is Made of Seashells,” the actual final song, pales a bit in comparison.

“We Will Overcome” falls a bit flat, and “Arc-Lamps, Signal Flares, A Shower of White (The Light)” is an organ interlude that serves as a transition from the first half of the album to the second. However, it seems drawn-out as a standalone track consisting only of a repeated chord progression for over two minutes.

But despite its flaws, “A City By The Light Divided” is still very much worth a listen.

Much of the record is packed with power. Its darker lyrics pair nicely with its atmospheric sound. As a whole, it sounds and feels like the thrill of waiting for a thunderstorm to roll in, lightning streaking across the gunmetal sky.

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