Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Reviews:: Fulton Lights The Way We Ride

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Last year when I reviewed the debut from Fulton Lights, I was obsessed with how well Andrew Spencer Goldman was able to recreate the grit and electricity that runs through the city that never sleeps. The songs moved slowly, as if they were swept up in the sea of faces, but underneath the surface danced the energy that pulses through you if you spend even a day in the Big Apple.

After listening to the new record – The Way We Ride – a lot of the same sentiments ring true. Goldman still uses a mix of organic and electronic textures to replicate the tension and excitement of New York, but there is one huge difference. The songs on the self-titled debut used the current of the city as the backdrop for Goldman’s personal fears and thoughts and even with the setting was ever-present, Goldman seemed to move around it; trapped in his own world, one that was only enhanced by his surroundings.

With The Way We Ride, Goldman seems to have found the confidence – musically and personally – to become part of the city. His songs are as much as part of the city as the subways, the history, the celebrity and the solitude. I remember reading how one night he was robbed in his own neighborhood, and I wondered if it would cause him to retract and drift away or keep fighting. I never really thought much about the saying about what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but I understand defiance and when the big beat comes in over the acoustic and electric guitars and white noise on the title track, you realize that Goldman is ready to make his stand. The track drives forward, picking up momentum and assurance with each drum clap and when Andrew admits “I don’t give a good god damn” you get the feeling that he’s in this for himself, no matter who or what tries to bring him down.

As the classic hip hop feel of an acoustic and big kick come in on Sideways Glances and Coded Speech, Goldman uses his vocals as a balance for the strings and interesting percussion. That interesting relationship is explored further with dramatic tempo changes that give the song a more organic feel battle with Alap "Oktopus" Momin’s scratching that tries to keep you heavily rooted in the Brooklyn borough. We Hit First is a solider anthem that uses some distorted vocals, big drums and some rip rock electric guitar, but the record shows more emotions than anger and exists outside the frantic pace of the city. Pen and Paper takes on the form of a gritty singer song writer that refuses to be limited by the constraints of the simple chord progressions his audience expects and I Love Your Point Of View uses some terrific pseudo afrobeat horns and a Jaco like bass line to let the folky track break into a gallop.

To me, the highlight of the record is the penultimate number, Everybody's Running From Something. The epic starts with some nice stand up bass, distorted, funked out electric and staccato bursts but when the horns come in, the songs hits its stride and Goldman manages to keep you engaged for the full seven-minutes. While this might seem easy, Goldman has managed to make a more interesting record by stripping down his output, only hitting the listener with rawest of emotions. This is no longer the sound of a fantasy city that is seen by many in countless movies or shows. No, Goldman has created the sound of a city as viewed by one of its own.


Fulton Lights - Everybody's Running From Something
Fulton Lights - The Way We Ride

Posted at 4:08 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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