Personnel: Omar Zehery (vocals, guitar, programming); Nick Thompson, Kevin Mahoney (vocals, guitar); Nathan VanDame (drums).
Audio Mixer: Kyle Black.
Recording information: Legacy Sounds; Madden Brothers Studio.
Released in 2012, Invicta saw the Ohio-based emocore unit batten down the hatches and jettison whatever lo-fi skatepunk detritus was left from its early days in favor of a more pure, radio-driven pop feel. Summer Bones, the band's fourth studio long-player and first outing for Pure Noise Records, effectively seals the deal, offering up an 11-track set of slickly produced, earworm-heavy, festival-ready singalongs shot through with enough good old-fashioned punk/hardcore spirit to make the transition easy for old-schoolers looking for a respite from breakdown town. Similar in tone to bands like Sleeping with Sirens and the Story So Far, Hit the Lights have no interest in wallowing in the oft-excavated pit of youthful despair; rather, they exist in a sort of amped-up, devil-may-care vacuum of good-times/bad-times soul-searching that leans more heavily toward the former. Vocalist Nick Thompson's clear-and-concise croon bears only the tiniest touch of the traditional emo-whininess that can so often turn a decent song into a chore, and the band can tear things up, especially on the album's more anthemic numbers (actually, they're all pretty reliably fervent) like "Fucked Up Kids," "No Filter," "The Real," and the nostalgic title track, the latter of which flirts with Midwest Americana and provides the album with its most pop-centric moments. Even at their most sonically malevolent ("Keep Your Head," "Sitter"), Hit the Lights manage to find a sugary bridge or chorus, effectively exposing their brief moment of suffering as an anomaly in an otherwise perfect buzz of a warm Warped Tour summer afternoon, where the pit is as rowdy and cathartic as it is totally bloodless. ~ James Christopher Monger