Album Review: Floodlights – Painting Of My Time

The Melbourne band deliver on their considerable potential with an astounding album brimming with tension, emotion and hooks

It doesn’t take long for Floodlights’ new record to give the impression that their sound has been working out. It’s positively hench, the aural equivalent of bicep curls and push-ups. Epic opener ‘Moment Of Distraction’ starts coiled up in a ball of tension that starts to shudder around two minutes in, inching towards the inevitable explosion.

Throughout Painting Of My Time, the Melbourne quartet rely on the simple power of guitar, bass and drums, all afforded space by the lean, clean production. Occasional embellishments – the trumpets on ‘Wide Open Land’ and ‘Something Blue’, the wailing harmonica that opens ‘Lessons Learnt’ and the title track – offer blossoms of colour that set Floodlights apart from their peers. As does the driving momentum, which feels derived less from post punk and art rock and more from Aussie pub rock greats like The Saints, Midnight Oil and Cold Chisel.

Floodlights - Lessons Learnt (Official Video)

The result is a record that never really sounds like anyone else. A good deal of that is due to Louis Parsons’ voice, which somehow veers seamlessly between sing-speak nonchalance and an emotionally wracked quaver. It’s never more powerful than on ‘Things You Do’, a slow-building beauty that uses its few constituent parts to staggering effect. That might be Floodlights’ secret weapon; few bands are as adept at using dynamics to convey mounting emotion. ‘Things You Do’ is a masterclass, constantly moving via shifting drum patterns and guitars that jump from hushed minor-chord arpeggios to muted power chords to liberated widescreen jangle to a searing lead line that ushers in the dramatic crescendo.

‘Wide Open Land’ takes everything the band did on 2020’s superb From A View and floors it down a blacktop at reckless speed. The bass revs like an engine, the drums are steroidal and Louis Parsons’ baritone conveys a desperate urgency to escape the choking city fumes. ‘Colours’ plays out like an Australian Billy Bragg fronting The Hold Steady, Parsons pleading for something real and lasting, asking: “What pleasures can I hold in my hand and how can I keep the colours from fading away?” From song to song, Floodlights never seem to be asking for anything more than a genuine connection with the world and the people around them, for modernity to be cast aside just long enough to see a face or a vista that means something.

From A View marked Floodlights as a band apart from any movement, a band with tremendous empathy, a unique perspective and enormous potential. Painting Of My Time is that potential made real, an exceptional achievement with so many moments that stop you in your tracks, so many songs that demand to be immediately replayed. It’s a world of its own and one you won’t want to leave.

Released: 21 April 2023
Label: Virgin Music
On Tour: TBC