Music

The Barlights: You Cannot Choose the Roads that Take You Home

Zachary Houle

Hey kids, have you ever wondered what early U2 would have sounded like if they hailed from England and not Ireland? Now’s your chance to find out!


The Barlights

You Cannot Choose the Roads that Take You Home

Label: NRONE Records
US Release Date: 2010-11-09
UK Release Date: 2010-11-08
Amazon
iTunes

Hey kids, have you ever wondered what early U2 would have sounded like if they hailed from England and not Ireland? Now’s your chance to find out! When you put on the sophomore album from the Barlights, a four-piece that hails from Norwich, England, you’ll hear that the opening cut, “Curtains”, is what you’d get if you spliced “Sunday Bloody Sunday” with a slowed-down version of the Walkmen’s “The Rat”. Yep, it’s an anthem that will have fists pumping in the air and Bic lighters out in full force. That’s not to say that the Barlights offer a totally derivative sound that recalls a particular Irish band. There are also simmering country flourishes to be found on the breathlessly titled You Cannot Choose the Roads That Take You Home, but those touches come with a certain New Wave relentlessness courtesy of a rhythm section that may leave you making mental comparisons to the Killers at times. However, lead vocalist Graham Horner does sound a little like Bono in his intonation, so you would be forgiven if you thought the band’s primary influence is brought to you by the letter U and the numeral two.

There’s a certain restlessness to be found on this album, too. Two of the 13 tracks here have the word “sleep” or a variation thereof in their titles (that would be “A Good Night’s Sleep” and “Slept Like Babies”), and the final song, “The Past and the Future” offers the line “Sleeping is a pointless ritual”. Maybe the band is too busy packing the bars and playing late, and not getting enough shut-eye in the process? Whatever. You Cannot Choose the Roads That Take You Home is proof that the Barlights have a crowd-pleasing sound, even if, at times, it rubs a little close to ... well, you know. These songs are rambunctious, rollicking and lodge in your ear like an earworm burrowing deep. Expect Barlights to start filling stadiums someday, once the band writes its own version of “With or Without You”.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.