I consider myself a pretty big Flatliners fan and have been for most of their career.
The Toronto foursome caught my attention with their debut – even if it was just speedy, loud ska tunes. It was their followup, The Great Awake, however, that blew me away.
The Flatliners have a punk rock style that is so addictive to me. They have been playing for almost 15 years now without a single change up in members. I have seen them live on multiple occasions, including in 2011 at SXSW just before the Ben Weasel blowout. To this day, Cavalcade remains one of my top albums.
Last week, the band dropped their fifth full-length release on Rise Records. Having heard a couple songs beforehand, I was pretty damn excited to get my hands on a copy. Since then, I have listened to it dozens of times and each listen just gets better for me.
Inviting Light has Cresswell singing way more than screaming throughout, and it is extremely likable. I was set back a little as I was expecting the band to unleash just like some of their older material, but the more I absorbed this release, the more I appreciated how much the band has matured.
Opening track “Mammals” slowly emerged into a pretty catchy track. Cresswell and crew took it easy but had no problem creating a song that begged to be sung along with. “Hang My Head” followed sounding more like a well-defined rock tune with a punk edge. This song in particular got stuck in my head the moment I heard it and I was totally ok with that.
“Indoors” was another track that was more drawn-out without the band’s style jumping ship completely. The Flatliners if anything, showcased their musical talent to the fullest on this track that seemed to revolve around insecurities and support. I especially loved Ramirez’s drumming throughout.
I adored “Unconditional Love” as it was to me a spaghetti-western punk rock song. It moseyed along, but was so impactful especially with Cresswell’s bellowing voice at times.
I found myself getting into “Infinite Wisdom” immediately with Cresswell’s singing style hitting lows and highs in a single breath. The energy in this song alone had me nodding my head to the beat instantly.
“Chameleon Skin” had Cresswell singing and wailing about adapting to surroundings through others. The song slowly built up into a great tune that clearly was far-fetched from a traditional Flatliners song, and honestly, I loved it.
Inviting Light is not quite like previous Flatliners albums, but that is not really anything that should be concerning at all given the talent that fills this tenured act.
A couple years back, Cresswell teamed up with Joey Cape for a One Week Records album and I seriously think he took to heart what he learned about himself playing with Cape and propelled that in the creation of Inviting Light. If you call yourself a Flatliners fan and have not heard that One Week Records album, prepared to be pleasantly shocked, it is outstanding.
Back to this album – If you are sitting there questioning yourself whether or not to listen to Inviting Light, recall what happened to Rise Against over time. I am not making any immediate comparisons between the two bands by the way, but styles change by decision and not force, and sometimes there is nothing at all wrong with that.
The Flatliners have not sold out, they found a new niche and are going with it. Think about it, they could still be pushing out ska jams, right?