Created over the course of the past three years, Fulton Lights is mainly the project of Brooklyn-based Andrew Spencer Goldman, but also features a slew of other artists (including Oktopus of Dälek, Steve Silverstein of Christmas Decorations, and people who have played with everyone from The Walkmen to Tony Conrad). The self-titled debut hovers in some hazy territory between trip hop and lush experimental rock similar to Califone.
Lyrically, the album reflects on life in New York city, and musically the album follows the lead of the words while running the range of emotions. "Thank God For The Evening News" opens the release with a bittersweet lament, and crushed beats roll steadily underneath tickled piano, some soft guitars, and quiet vocals from Goldman himself. Oktopus helps throw down some serious claustrophobia on the aptly-titled "1000 Little Eyes," and the repeated, paranoid lines get swallowed up by buzzing washes and barely-contained sheets of noise.
At nearly eight minutes, "The Sound Of The City" is easily one of the best songs on the entire album, despite its sprawl. Against dense walls of guitars, Goldman's clear vocals creep through the fog just enough as a pitter-pat beat keeps time in the background. Breathing with a nice sense of space, the track gets downright sparse at times before opening up again with an almost mechanical groan.
When Goldman drifts apart from his more damaged gang of fellow musicians, the results are sometimes a bit on the saccharin side. The electric-piano and organ touched "The Monkey On Our Backs" strips things back quite a bit, and with the vocals taking more of a place in the front it pushes near emo ballad territory, while "Fire In The Palm Of My Hand" also ventures into a more piano-man sound. That said, the album is produced immaculately, with timely string arrangements in places (a highlight is the gurgling "Breathe In, Breathe Out," with more wheezing hints of noise and baroque string backing). Slightly uneven, this self-titled debut from Fulton Lights shines when it lets things get a little bit noisy, but falls back to more standard sounds in a few too many places.