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Ex-Arcade Fire Member Goes Big With New Crew

New Hampshire’s Wild Light craft disc of hooky, anthemic jams

Jenny Eliscu May 20, 2009
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New Hampshire indie rockers Wild Light have been making music together for nearly two decades ”“ and they’re only in their mid-20s. Multi-instrumentalists and singers Jordan Alexander and Timothy Kyle formed their first band, Grandma’s Diapers, in the fourth grade and recorded an album using a toy tape deck. “We could complete an entire quote-unquote album in just a couple of hours,” says Alexander, 28, sitting with his bandmates in a Los Angeles cafe the evening after they shot their first video.

These days, Wild Light (which also includes drummer Seth Kasper and bassist Seth Pitman) have toured with Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem and were signed in a bidding war by StarTime International, the label that launched the Walkmen and Peter Bjorn and John. Their debut album, Adult Nights, aims for something much bigger than blog buzz: It’s an ambitious, sweeping disc of triumphant hooks and grand, sweet-and-sour tunes that recall early Death Cab for Cutie ”“ or U2, if they were fronted by Conor Oberst. The lead single, ”˜California on My Mind,’ goes for broke with a rousing sing-along chorus ”“ “Fuck today, fuck San Francisco, fuck California” ”“ which Kyle sings over a tangle of harmonicas and shimmering guitars. “Nowadays, the whole modus operandi of indie rock involves not doing anything you might be embarrassed of ”“ to write songs that are safe and unimpeachably smart but spiritless,” says Kyle, 28. “People are so afraid of falling flat that they never go for the big thing.”

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Kyle picked up some ideas about ambition and scope from studying albums like the Clash’s Sandinista! and spending time with an old college buddy, Arcade Fire’s Win Butler. Kyle was actually in an early version of the Montreal group but left when he transferred schools. “I learned a lot from watching Win ”“ he was the most committed person I knew to the lifestyle of being an artist and that idea of really forcing -yourself to finish songs,” says Kyle. “We’ve finished an album, and though we’re still not making any money, we have more hope.”

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