Bellingham might be one of the Pacific Northwest’s best-kept secrets. Fueled by a combination of unwavering love for local acts, a decent amount of incredible venues, and a strong desire to keep all-ages music relevant, the self-proclaimed City of Subdued Excitement produces fantastic acts.
The Love Lights are by no means new to Bellingham, as they’ve been around since the mid-2000s. What started off as a few friends playing along to a drum track has evolved into a full-fledged 7-piece ensemble with incredible musical chops.
2008’s Young Lions was a record that demanded your attention not only because of the superb songwriting, but also because of the ease in which each song came together. A song that slowly burns and builds that ends with only a snare drum and group harmonies, moves seamlessly into a blaring pop song that clocks in at under 2 minutes.
On Team Honey, their latest release, we find The Love Lights at their most clever and comfortable.
“Speak” starts off with only a handful of bass notes, tambourine hits, and gentle crooning, but suddenly bursts into an epic call to action full of bravado. After getting the silent treatment, vocalist Rob Stauffer is finally fed up and demanding a response. His burst of courage is short lived, however, as by the end of the song his threat of walking away sounds more pain-filled and hollow than truthful. Being able to get this much emotion into a 2-minute song is truly impressive.
On the other end of the spectrum, the longest track on Team Honey is the absolutely gorgeous “Runtitled.” The gentle guitar and humming bass completely captures the feeling of hopelessness that comes towards the end of any relationship. While the horns blare, you cherish every second as a weird sense of nostalgia of the present. The most heartbreaking moment of the track is the final crescendo that finds the band picking up momentum, playing faster and louder, only to gently slow back down and fade out as the inevitability of an ending becomes clear.
Team Honey deserves to be played loudly. Much like a sleepy college town like Bellingham, it is full of nuances that you might miss otherwise. Subdued or not, The Love Lights are definitely exciting.