hile Sighting’s debut LP for Load Records clocks in at a few minutes less than Weezer’s recent self titled return to pop stardom, it sounds like the absolute antithesis of what might appear in Rivers Cuomo’s fabled notebook full of pop songs. Instead, these labelmates of Lightning Bolt take a different approach to song writing, which seems to be based on a game of audio chicken (you know Sightings isn’t going to swerve into more accessible territory, so you best get out of the way unless you want there to be carnage).
Starting with a simple “1, 2, 3, 4”, the first song on the album promptly bursts into an almost static like cacophony of sound. The lead singer’s voice emerges from the chaos and the song settles down for a moment until a sort of alien bass cuts in, providing a propulsive undercurrent for the drums and guitars to pound out an aural epiphany. The song ends at exactly the point that you think you can’t take anymore and allows little time until the next track, which sounds like steel girders being grinded against each other, while a power tool goes out of control in the background. The lead singer once again lets out a disembodied yelp, signaling the fact that the drums will soon enter the song to add an underside to this top heavy piece.
Then comes the obvious highlight of the record, called “Cuckoo” Metal shards that vaguely resemble chords play far off in the distance while the drums play a maniacal beat that is almost militaristic in nature. As the singer crazily sings “Cuckoo, cuckoo” at the end of each line, other chords appear in front of the mix seemingly coming from nowhere. This song has the anger, energy, and vitality of Lightning Bolt’s “13 Monsters”.
Unfortunately for Sightings, this alternate loose and tight nature that controlled Lightning Bolt’s noise freakouts on Ride The Skies doesn’t seem to be present here. The group vacillates song by song from loose and tight arrangements, but never seems to come up with the perfect mix on any particular song after “Cuckoo” It certainly doesn’t seem to help that the songs sound as though they have been recorded in a washing machine, at times. While this can work to some band’s advantages, it would be much more interesting to hear Sightings unhindered by the recording with an Albini-like production job.
That being said, the group is a welcome addition to a label that has come to semi-prominence with the reception of Lightning Bolt’s previous record. Sightings is played with some frequency on John Peel’s radio show and, with continued improvement, could prove on their second record to be able to reign in their excesses while maintaining their fresh energy and vitality. This controlled fury is what made Ride The Skies so great and is hopefully what is in store for the next release by this promising band.