Night Flight – White Noise EP review

by Tom Welsh

Following on from their 2018 self-titled debut album, Night Flight’s White Noise EP has arrived via a time of upheaval and self-reflection. Described by singer and main songwriter, Sam Holmes, as an attempt to convey ‘the range of emotions felt in moments of high change’, this release stems from his return to his hometown of Rye to regroup – and brings a new-found maturity in sound and sentiment.

White Noise opens with scratchy guitar chords that end up being completely at odds with the lush sounds that grace this six-track collection. The song that lends the EP its name quickly develops into a rolling waltz, with offbeat organ stabs and overlapping guitars moving the track between moments of widescreen grandeur and understated beauty. By the time the stark closing strain of ‘I’m in constant fear my dear’ leaves you in no uncertain terms that you’re party to some emotional soul-baring, the track has turned into a winsome-sounding piano ballad via Sunflower-era Beach Boys that serves to display the far-reaching beauty that Night Flight can conjure.

The band’s ability to deliver an intimate yet rich soundscape to match the sentiments on display becomes more evident over the next three tracks. David’s shimmering swells of guitar lend an ethereal air to a song of struggles with self-centred introspection, while Mexico employs an Americana vibe to underpin its wistful words of regret over missed adventures. Rye’s roomy production and understated instrumentation allows for the unfiltered emotions that inform the song to shine through, almost to the point where you feel you’re imposing on something.

The raw honesty of the lyrics throughout the EP is what really sets it apart, with many lines almost jolting with their undisguised truth. The EP’s opening statement of ‘I’m fine if you say that I’m fine,’ lets you know what you’re in for; Rye covers the day-to-day struggles of a tough break up in specific, but relatable detail (‘People on some days still ask me your name’); even Mexico’s opening gambit of ‘I was always drinking, always overthinking’ – though staple vices of many a songwriter – seems like new ground, particularly against the pretty lilt that it’s set to.

The details of the soul-searching time that borne the EP continue on the closing suite of ATM and DelusionsATM’s John Grant-esque approach of double-tracked vocals and jaunty electronics seems oddly unwelcome at first, given the earthy feel that precedes it, but amongst its earworm hooks lie the beginnings of a narrative’s resolution. As the track segues into closer Delusions with backwards guitars and mantra-like vocals, you can’t help but feel privileged to have been part of the journey. From the band’s perfect treatment of the expertly-crafted songs, to the heartfelt self-exploration held within them, this feels like a breakthrough on all levels.

Secret Meeting score: 88

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