Spotlights are part of a legion of bands (see also: Holy Fawn, Niights) who take their shoegaze and post-metal influences beyond the My Bloody Valentine and Deftones aping of their peers to create something they can truly call their own. Their last album Love & Decay made my Top 20 list last year, so naturally I was excited to learn they’d be closing out Blues Funeral’s first installment of the PostWax series with a new EP less than a year later.
We Are All Atomic is essentially one long, loose song that is divided into four tracks. As you could guess from the album cover, it’s a very atmospheric, tripped out EP. The band creates trances through repetition, washed out vocals, and their guitar tones. Hell, that bass tone definitely deserves some sort of award. The band’s blend of shoegaze, doom metal, and post-metal is unique. Unlike many gazers of the lace, you’d have a tough time calling this band a knockoff of any particular 90’s act. Not only do Spotlights have much more stomp than most shoegaze acts, but their chord choices make them stand out as well.
The EP opens with a spaced-out guitar lead and essentially builds on that until reaching a hefty trudge. In the verses we see Spotlights’ chord choices play in their favor; the fluidity of this track’s key only adds to the otherworldly atmosphere. Once the band injects some doom into the track, the vocals follow suit and get harsher. The screamed vocals didn’t quite work on their last album, and they don’t quite work here either. The band is much better at creating heaviness via pedalboards.
“Part II” is a much more energetic, straight-foward track. This part is also the first point where the drums are fully let loose. It’s focused around a bending, slightly dissonant groove that’s very hypnotic. There’s also a brilliant fuzz guitar solo in “Part II” to make things even more interesting.
“Part III”, the most atmospheric cut, mainly serves as a transition and a point of respite. It’s fully instrumental, focusing mainly on guitars and synth. It becomes apparent that the even-numbered tracks are where the meat of this EP lies. “Part IV” contains the EP’s biggest riffs and biggest harmonies. The payoff from “Part III” to “Part IV” is great, and “Part IV” continues to build upon the momentum. Some of that momentum is lost in the end, as the band jams on the outro for a bit too long, but the band does a ton creatively with the first half of the track.
We Are All Atomic is an enjoyable listen, but if you’re craving more Spotlights material, this is merely an appetizer. It’s not Spotlights’ most captivating songwriting, but it still bears their signature sound and boasts a few really strong moments.
Spotlights’ new EP We Are All Atomic is available now via Blues Funeral Recordings.
Best Tracks: Part II, Part IV
Weakest Tracks: Part I
FFO: Failure, Holy Fawn, Cloakroom
Overall Score: B-