‘Telegraphs’ is the debut EP by alternative pop/rock band Belmont Lights, although strictly speaking, it’s the band’s third record, as they’ve previously released two other EPs in 2010-11 under the name The Pennant.  Since “The Pennant” was unlikely to have been in homage to British TV director Pennant Roberts, Belmont Lights is a change for the better.  It sounds sunnier, more American and, well, just more like a band name.

It doesn’t matter what a band is actually called, of course. The real test is in the music.  Here, the shiny vocal pushes things rather more toward the pop market – as does the band’s boyish appearance – but even so, Belmont Lights have a couple of enjoyable tunes up their collective sleeves.

Things start out rather well with lead single ‘Halfway’, as Belmont Lights tap into something inspired by the poppier end of the piano rock movement.  During its intro, the pianos lay down a great melody, before frontman Isiah Blas starts to sing.  With a strongish (yet slightly filtered) vocal, he carries a reasonable tune, before a simple drum line carries the bulk of the tune’s weight.  What gradually unfolds is something that sounds as if it has the makings of a radio hit: a reasonable hook, a timeless whoah and a crowd-pleasing vibe pulls together the better elements of bands such as Fun. and The Fray.  Slightly tougher, ‘Young & A Memory’ adds ringing guitars to the overall mix, while retaining most of the elements which made ‘Halfway’ enjoyable.  The pianos take more of a back seat, so the guitar-led moments show a slightly different aspect to the Belmont Lights sound. Once again, though, huge whoahs are on hand to ensure this tune has a relatively memorable hook.

Despite the first couple of tracks showing promise in an adult pop sense, ‘Telegraph’ soon runs out of steam.  The weakest number, ‘Don’t Touch’ is a very vocal led piece, which utilises a world of electronic beats and vocal effects.  No amount of mid-paced moody beats and studio trickery escapes the fact that this sounds like a boy band track in a very thin disguise, while ‘Let Me’ represents the kind of empty, thoughtless pop that Maroon 5 would turn into a worldwide hit.  A little better, ‘Battle’ has touches of The Killers in its approach, with even more beats and vocal choirs befitting of 30 Seconds To Mars making up at least half of the track’s base.  While this is generally okay, it is seldom any more than that, and Belmont Lights have already proven they are capable of far better.

Some people enjoy music as a sunny backdrop and never ask to be challenged by it and that’s fine – those people will probably love this.  Based on the first two numbers, Belmont Lights are not without reasonable song-writing chops, but for the more discerning listener, most of this EP just doesn’t reach its full potential.

September 2012