Like their pop punk brethren, Hit the Lights has made a career out of wit and angst backed by heavy distortion and rapid drumming. After having four albums make an impact on the Billboard charts, it would be easy for a band to stick with this formula. Insert clichés about what to do if something is not broken here.
With this in mind, Just To Get Through To You, the band’s EP set to be released May 6, takes on a whole new meaning. Just To Get Through To You takes Hit the Lights back through many of their hits, this time in stripped down acoustic fashion. What comes through from the band is a much more vulnerable take on past material.
The EP starts off with a high point, “Blasphemy, Myself and I” originally recorded for 2015’s Summer Bones. The difference is immediate, replacing the sharp distorted guitar solos at the beginning with softer understated tones. Despite stripping the song back from the original, the version on Just To Get Through To You showcases a richer sound complete with thicker layering of vocals and acoustic guitar and… is that a cello?
This simplification defines Just To Get Through To You. Skip School, Start Fight’s “Drop The Girl” loses the programmed electronic drums for a cleaner sound that allows the message to come across with a deeper sincerity while still retaining its sharp edge. “Fucked Up Kids” slows down to become a song less about rebellion and more about realization. The angry tone of “Save Your Breath” is replaced by a mournful one, turning the song from an angry breakup song to one of reflection.
“Summer Bones,” the title track from Hit The Light’s latest album seems to be a fairly faithful rendition until the chorus hits. While the original opted for a bigger is better tactic, this version chooses to strip it back down. This allows lyrics like “We had the fall and now it’s lost like everything” to hit harder. The message of summer love lost with the changing of seasons becomes infinitely more intriguing.
The one new addition to the EP, “Lighthouse,” begins the same as the other tracks showcased. Picking acoustic guitars and strings back lead vocalist Nick Thompson’s pining declaration that “If I could just wake up to you, make love to you, that’s all I want to do.” Lest fans be concerned that Hit the Lights has lost their edge, though, a surprise awaits as the track kicks into full gear nearly two minutes into the song. Suddenly the acoustic instrumentation is dropped in favor of electric guitar and pounding drums. After five and a half tracks of quiet introspection, this change hits like a punch to the gut. It’s a smartly crafted song that manages to showcase the band’s typical style in a more impactful way.
Fans will certainly be intrigued by this new take on many of their favorite songs, and rightly so. While Just To Get Through To You rarely ventures outside of the formula laid out by “Blasphemy, Myself and I,” it does a good job of showcasing an evolving band. Hit The Lights has managed to showcase a more mature sound. While Thompson has stated that this was “something we made for the fans we have- just a little appreciation recording we felt people would enjoy while awaiting the next record,” it is certainly more than a throwaway project. If Just To Get Through To You is any indication, the next project is one to watch out for.
Watch for Just To Get Through To You, set to be released May 6 on Pure Noise Records and is available for preorder now.