Emo on good terms... their numbers have a charm and wit to them that separates them from the rest of the pack.
On their third outing in just three years, Life on Life’s Terms, Bedlight for Blue Eyes at first seem like little more than one of the many bands following Fall Out Boy’s lead. After all, there’s definitely a demand out there right now for squeezing out glossy, immaculate emo on a regular schedule, coupled with shrill, trebley vocals and lots of bravado. Yet thankfully, the young fourpiece has survived the numerous lineup changes of their early days (the only original member playing on Life’s Terms is drummer Itzhak Bishburg), and manage to prove they’re not as shallow as others on the bandwagon; while they don’t steer away from rather whiny adolescent breakup songs, their numbers also have a charm and wit to them ("Spare me your bedroom stories of all your new love affairs / I’d love to say I’m happy for you but I’m just not there") that separates them from the rest of the pack.
The album does get off to a precarious start with the generic "The City and the Ghost", where vocalist Daniel Rinaldi sounds like the guy equivalent of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, gasping exultantly "I swore it’d be different" over three chords that more or less confirm the exact opposite. But Life on Life’s Terms soon starts to take shape, thanks to its memorable, larger-than-life hooks, and more to Dan Taylor and Derek Weber’s guitars. The duo’s bouncy riffs sparkle and glisten probably due more to the crisp glossing-over than any genuine talent on his part. Still, the end justifies the means -- "Ms. Shapes" rings with an air of confidence, dominated by his gritty, off-the-beat playing, and next in line "Whole Again" is propelled by tight, closed hi-hat drumming and skittery chord changes.
Bedlight for Blue Eyes can deliver their upbeat rock with serviceable verve, but to their credit, they can also walk the less-trodden path. "Walk With Me" is a steel-string acoustic lighter-waver, wisely positioned as the album’s centrepiece, more touching than anything their peers can muster. Rinaldi has an impressive range, except for a slight tendency to mumble in the upper register. Mellower territory like this gives him a chance to reach godly melodic heights, and the rest of the band to stretch out and catch their breath.
"Too Late For Us" manages to be ultra-catchy and not seem like it’s whoring itself out for radio play. It’s a good-natured kiss-off to an ex underlined by adventurous, galloping basslines, plus a chorus that quotes Macbeth ("What’s done is done"), and possibly the most unbelievable line in an album of its kind this year: "If this album tops the Billboard I think I’ll save a quarter to call you and let you know." "Without You (We Are Everything)" seems just like its evil twin, featuring a screeching solo from either Taylor or Weber that’s really not half-bad.
The last track on Bedlight for Blue Eyes is "Michael", dedicated to the lead singer’s brother who apparently met an untimely death. It’s without doubt a risky endeavor from the band: stepping away from the safe sugar-coated bulk of their previous material and taking on this sort of intensely personal ballad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much past an anthemic format (which, for the record, includes enough acoustic guitar strumming to sink a Panic! At the Disco song) and teary-eyed emoting ("Am I making you proud of me?"). But the sentiment is obviously there. That could apply to Life on Life’s Terms as a general statement -- forgive it for its unoriginality, and give it an honest spin. Bedlight for Blue Eyes may sound like Fall Out Boy copycats, but they most ambitiously claim they’re committed to bringing back arena rock.