Recorded and performed by one man in a small guest bedroom in Philadelphia, but soaring overseas to reach our collective ears, is the new single from Shai Halperin aka Sweet Lights. On the heels of the melodic charm of debut single ‘Endless Town’ is the pulsing, harmony soaked ‘Are We Gonna Work it Out’.
The kitchen sink production style may sound extreme on paper, but Halperin’s deft approach coalesces the parts. Staccato pianos, canyon sized snare hits and duelling acoustic and electric guitar solos come together as the hooks and harmonies fly past, and the sense of urgency is intoxicating.
Halperin is coy regarding the meaning, if any, the song puts forth. And so, perhaps by design, the racing pace of the tune allows lines such as “Why not wrap some clouds around you, sunshine?” and “Leave my melting mind alone” to fly past without seeming dour.
As has oft been the case, Sweet Lights manipulates and repurposes iconic themes from songs gone by. Long ago, Sir Paul suggested, “We Can Work it Out”; Mr Halperin updates matters with his melodic “really?” “Are we gonna work it out? Can anybody work it out?”
As will be abundantly clear on the forthcoming self-titled album Sweet Lights, Halperin’s new work is his most personal to date. Fans and listeners will enjoy knowing that the striking image of a young girl with a rifle that dons the cover of the single happens to be Shai’s mum at age 16.
Prior to Sweet Lights, Shai was leader and progenitor of The Capitol Years, enjoying varied critical accolades including a Radcliffe and Maconie Single of the Week with ‘Revolutions’, a live session on BBC Radio 2 with Bob Harris, a memorable set at Glastonbury Festival, and high praise from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. The Capitol Years morphed from a bedroom pop experiment into a five-piece band that saw The War On Drugs’ Adam Granduciel and David Hartley spending time as Capitol Years members, with Shai also playing alongside Kurt Vile and Granduciel in an early War On Drugs line-up.
The Sweet Lights live show made its debut in March 2012 in Philadelphia at a sold out show with Polica. Sweet Lights has already been enjoying early radio support on BBC 6 Music courtesy of Lauren Laverne, Gideon Coe and Radcliffe and Maconie, and Radio 2 play from Bob Harris.