‘Brothers (B-Sides)’ album review

Image courtesy of Facebook.com/TheLighthouseandTheWhaler

album: Brothers (B-Sides)
artist: The Lighthouse and The Whaler
genre: rock & roll
release date: September 18, 2020
star rating: three out of five

review by Levi Yager

The Lighthouse and The Whaler have surprised listeners with a delightful little EP of previously unreleased cuts. Well, mostly unreleased. All of the songs except the title track are new additions to the band’s public repertoire; “Brothers” was actually released on their eponymous sampler via NoiseTrade five years ago (and you can still get it there, too). Regardless, the majority of this EP is material we haven’t heard before, and the title track is good enough to revisit anyhow.

Of course, the designation B-Sides in the EP’s title reveals that these songs aren’t exactly new recordings, rather a few buried gems finally unearthed to share their sparkle. And this collection of songs very much sounds like that: a quaint smattering of B-sides. This isn’t a bad thing, though. By definition, these songs simply didn’t make it onto the final tracklists of the band’s other records, so they’re not necessarily their best work. However, they’re still completely enjoyable, and I’m happy that The Lighthouse and The Whaler let them see the light of day.

The first song is “Wanderer,” a relaxed rock tune with chipper sensibilities. It’s not my favorite track, but it’s an effective mood-setter for the EP. Then, we roll onto “California Sun.” Its striking instrumentation grabs hold of your focus immediately; jangly keys, dirty bass, click-clack percussion and glowing lead guitar make up the mixture of textures. Later on, strings in the bridge add the perfect touch. “California Sun” burns bright and keeps the good mood going strong.

Next, we visit our old friend “Brothers.” Honestly, it’s no wonder they chose to feature this song again; it’s pretty damn good. Here, it serves to turn the EP down a more reflective path. An undeniable builder at its heart, “Brothers” is a grand, sweeping movement that reveals vast reservoirs of feeling. As the tension builds, you wait with bated breath for the dam to break. I’ve liked this song since I first heard it, and it’s just as good today as it was then. The nearly constant drumming and strumming alongside dramatic strings create a compelling, symphonic atmosphere. “Brothers” is a great song, and I’m glad more people will probably get to hear it on this EP.

The last song, “Long Way to Go,” sees us off on our Pilgrim’s Progress, leaning into weary hopefulness. It’s as good of a goodbye as there is, remembering what’s left behind and looking toward what lay ahead. It opens with lonely guitar work before various percussion instruments, gentle bgvs and more guitars join in around the halfway mark. “Long Way to Go” culminates in gang vocals of “We got a long, long way to go,” repeating until they’re the only thing remaining. It’s a picturesque closing to a memorable experience.

I had a pleasant time with Brothers (B-Sides). As a longtime fan of The Lighthouse and The Whaler, it’s a cool treat to hear some songs from the vault. I’d say most hardcore fans will probably scoop this right up, but casual fans may just wait for a more substantial release with all-new recordings. Brothers (B-Sides), for all its strengths, doesn’t do much different for The Lighthouse and The Whaler. New listeners, though, will get a good taste of the band’s general sound with this EP; they might want to give it a couple spins to see if it’s something they’d like. In the end, the picks on Brothers (B-Sides) make for a worthwhile listen.

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