Reviews Signals Midwest Light On The Lake

Signals Midwest

Light On The Lake

I’ve sat on this review for a while, waiting for that easy-to-describe-it moment to hit me. With Signals Midwest, I don’t know if that’s going to happen. The Cleveland band uses their Midwestern sensibility in their sound—it’s gritty, honest, and non-showy—but it’s also too distinct to tie to a geographic area. The band uses a punk influence throughout while playing slowed down and drawn out songs that waver in varied directions without losing sight of that everyman feel. Think about The Riot Before and The Gaslight Anthem getting intimate. Not for any reason. I just wanted to put that image in everyone’s head.

To sum up the 12 songs on Light on the Lake, there is a plodding and carefully crafted feel behind the work, much akin to the defunct The Riot Before and their drawn out, emphatic punk rock. It’s dramatic and climactic, but instead of abusing the dynamic shifts to create a movement, Signals Midwest wavers their tempos and structures when the drama hits, shifting gears and then pulling back again. As all of that is happening, there’s a storytelling vibe to it all somewhat in the vein of Gaslight Anthem or maybe Menzingers. It’s punk rock at heart, but not on paper and an underlying larger song structure at play influenced by classic rock but punked up a la Restorations.

What I often find with this type of band is that it’s hard to pick standouts—they aren’t “singles” bands, they’re “album” bands. With Light on the Lake it’s definitely both. “A Room Once Called Yours,” “Lowercase,” and “Caricature” all stand out for varied reasons, with “A Room Once Called Yours” and it’s reflective tone leading the charge. The guitars are winding and the beat marches along, but with a lot of changeups thrown whenever the story starts to lose momentum. Instead of just speeding it up or throwing in some gang vocals, the song twists and turns into a three-and-a-half minute piece that has the ingredients of a song twice its length. With all that going on, though, it never feels stretched or bogged down, which is really the accomplishment behind this whole record. 

Light on the Lake is a record that might hit on a few cylinders on its first go-round, but it’s something to be taken in at a slower pace, listened to carefully, and it hits all the more powerfully. It has a tough exterior and some abrasive, aggressive moments, but ultimately it’s a record about coming to peace, not starting a war.

7.5 / 10Loren
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
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7.5 / 10

7.5 / 10

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