Headlights new album, Kill Them With Kindness is 45 minutes of sweet, melancholy, orchestral pop. It's full of synthesizers, clever vocal lines, and the beautiful voice of Erin Fein. It ranges from Stars to My Bloody Valentine to Ivy to Mates of State. I hate to use a list of female vocally influenced bands to describe a band fronted by a female voice, because well, it seems too easy and obvious. But Headlights really does sound like all of those bands. And more.
The band is from Champaign, Illinois. For those of you who haven't been to Champaign, Illinois (which is probably everyone who is reading this), it is the home of the University of Illinois. It's a rather boring and cold place in Southern Illinois. I have been to Champaign twice in my life and they have both been in the dead of winter. Because of these two encounters, I can't imagine that Champagne ever gets warm. I imagine a summer day there as being just like a Winter day. Of course I'm wrong, but running into the International House of Pancakes and smoking a few cigarettes over some pancakes is what the south of Illinois will forever mean. Hey, I like places to live up to their stereotypes.
But because of my thoughts of the Champaign/Urbana area in Southern Illinois, it is no surprise that a band that hails from there would make such a warm and wintery album. I know I am writing this in mid August, but make no mistake, this is an album that will warm you up. The first track, "Your Old Street," starts with a string quartet that although it has nothing to do with Christmas, reminds me of the aforementioned Holiday. It's a perfect intro into the slow female/male vocal part that reminds me of Amy Millan and Torque of Stars, although there is absolutely no "cutes-y" factor to this band. "Your Old Street" is a perfect intro that sets the mood for a beautiful album void of pretentiousness and full of heartfelt vocals and an updated use of the Phil Spector production style. Think if M83 hired a full time female vocalist and started writing more radio friendly hits.
Songs like "Songy Darko," "TV," and "Hi-Ya" are all songs that remind me of being warmed up by a glass of brandy while sitting in front of a fire during the wintertime. I've never actually had brandy but these songs are full of warm synth and beautiful female vocals that remind me of what I think drinking brandy by a fire is like. They're happy and melancholy, they're catchy and they're elusive, they're loud and soft. Headlights have managed to capture a perfect mixture of happy and sad to make a kind of rock that begs to be listened to on any day that leaves you wanting more.