Pop Rock, 2014
Poor Phillip Phillips. Behind the Light, his sophomore effort, is a far stronger and more confident effort, with some gorgeous songs that echo the grandeur of the Boss, Mumford & Sons (of course), and matchbox twenty. Okay, the last is not a good thing, but hey, nobody’s perfect.
Searchlight, Armless Crawler, and the lead single Raging Fire are all rousing anthems with strong vocals, killer hooks, and atmospheric production. It’s interesting how the songs here are all similar, and yet, each song manages to retain its distinct identity instead of melding with other songs into one indistinguishable noise. I guess in this case Mr Phillips isn’t just formulaic, he’s also consistent in a good way.
The only problem here is that the specter of his biggest selling single, Home, looms large over his head like a sword of Damocles. The songs here are calculated to capture the similar sound as Home, but they are at the same time nowhere as immediately infectious as that song. Behind the Light is more of a slow burn album, with the songs only growing on me after a few listens. Therefore, this album requires a degree of patience to go through. To casual folks, it may just be another album where all the songs aren’t Home and therefore isn’t worth the time or money.
Behind the Light scores points, however, for being a cohesive and well-rounded album with strong songs all around. While it may not evolve Mr Phillips’s career much, it does show an evolution in the fellow’s musical direction toward a more focused sound. He sounds more at home in his chosen sound, and that’s a good thing.
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