Some Racing, Some Stopping is quite the wonderland of dream pop, all the way down to its Beach Boys-esque “ooh-ah-oohs.” But even if it breaks out into a bubblegum rash at times, the instrumental mutations and asymmetrical lyrics keep it from turning into “High School Musical.”
This is Headlights’ second full length album, and it’s more phosphorescent and visceral than their slightly more rockin’, in-your-face predecessor Kill Them With Kindness. The Illinois-based trio (which sometimes expands its numbers with guest players) stacks layers of keyboard, muted guitar and angelic vocals, then glues them together with a jogging, clappy tempo. The otherworldly “Cherry Tulips” occupies a midnight carnival dreaminess while the album’s title track features keyboardist Erin Fein’s cottony vocals floating as if from an old record clipped by ghostly tappings.
It takes a few listenings to figure out what it is that makes Some Racing, Some Stopping different from other featherlight pop albums. It really comes down to a bold R&B bassline here, the grittiness of a funereal organ there, and the timely splash of cymbals peppered throughout. Even in all its impressionistic, scattered and starry effervescence, the album never loses its anchor. (Erika Fredrickson)
Headlights play the Badlander Monday, March 24, at 9 PM.