Flesh Lights

Free Yourself (12XU)

Record Review

Free Yourself (12XU)

Time to amend all Flesh Lights-related documents and strike out the word "garage." That musical lexeme defies the precision and composition quality showcased on the local trio's second fling – a fast-rock treasure. Of course they're still mischievous punks named after a male masturbation enhancer. That remains on topical songs including Jeremy Steen's comically dramatic foretelling of Chinese world domination ("Mandarin") and drummer Elissa Ussery's breathless conspiracy on Nazi UFO's ("German Discs") – plus stabs at ATX's aging hipsters ("Middle Aged Youths") and failed rockers ("Big Break"). Developing as a punk band means growth without growing up and, on Free Yourself, that stride begins with guitar glorification. Atop the seismic rhythms of Steen's impenetrable Rickenbacker raking and Ussery's hyperventilating beats, primary composer Max Vandever shoots squirrelly riffs into every available nook like a best-of-both-worlds amalgamation of Greg Ginn and Rick Nielsen. The guitarist, voice still sneering with youthful snot, generates peak power on the title track, either a suicide note or declaration of living life to its fullest. Free Yourself steps up Flesh Lights' game on all fronts: songwriting, musicianship, diversity, and muscle. They aren't the scene's scrappy grunts – never were. They're artistically elite.

****.5

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  • Heaven Tonight

    Toss punk. Flesh Lights coin fast-rock.

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