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Talent + vision = pop beauty

The Blinding Lights Above
The Blinding Lights Above
By Dynamite Walls

Self-released: 2007

Buy it now

This review first appeared in the August 30, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

Picking up where last fall's eponymously named four-song EP left off – literally – the debut full-length album by San Diego's Dynamite Walls is a confident slice of wall-of-sound pop melodicism. Sprinkled with more hooks than a strip of Velcro and a sheen to put a supermodel's hair to shame, "The Blinding Lights Above" is a thick-pile plush 45 minutes of listening decadence.

With the two best songs off the EP ("Kiss and Ride" and "Seasons") anchoring the new album, Dynamite Walls has fleshed it out with nine more strong originals that show a band with a consistent musical vision and the talent to deliver that vision to full fruition.

The best of the new songs is "Pages," which appears twice – as the third track and in a radio edit that shaves about 20 seconds off the original mix. Built around a strong melodic theme carried by lead singer Tom Pritchard, the song has the kind of over-the-top dramatic appeal that U2 specializes in. The similarity is only heightened by the tonal similarity between Pritchard and Bono.

The most interesting of the tunes is probably the supposedly "hidden" 11th track, "Ain't That Special." It features a stripped-down acoustic arrangement with dual guitars and rich harmony vocals, delivered in a much more relaxed vein than the heightened sense of urgency that prevails on the rest of the album.

Throughout, the band's playing is rock-solid, a seamless integration of rhythm and harmonies and melodic leads. Rather than hearing guitars and bass and keyboards, what you hear on every song is a band so tightly woven that it is in essence a single instrument.