Album Review – Luke Bryan’s ‘Kill The Lights’, An Exercise in Avoiding Being Country At All Costs

Luke Bryan Kill The Lights

Luke Bryan just came out with his new album Kill The Lights. For weeks I’ve been telling myself that I’m not going to review this album. I told myself to just stay away from it and let this album be. There’s plenty of great country music out there that can be reviewed instead. Yet here I am reviewing Kill The Lights. The reason I ultimately decided to review this album is because the world needs negative reviews too. It’s too easy to just ignore a problem. You have to face it head on. It’s important to point out when a big artist makes such terrible music for educational purposes, critical purposes and of course for amusement. Luke Bryan has been one of the biggest stars in country music for the last several years and shows no signs of slowing down in terms of popularity. Kill The Lights went head-to-head in sales with Dr. Dre’s new album Compton. Bryan isn’t going away and he’s impossible to ignore. So I bit my tongue, held my nose and listened to Bryan’s new album. I actually half-expected for it be better than his last album Crash My Party. But I was very wrong.

The lead single and one of the worst songs of 2015, “Kick The Dust Up,” leads off the album. If you missed my take down of this horrible song, here’s a refresher: This is the same old shit we’ve heard for the last three years. As for the instrumentation, it’s a pop, rock, adult contemporary arrangement for the most part. The exception is a Middle Eastern guitar riff that cuts in on the first chorus and plays intermittently for the rest of the song. This is the only part of this song that I don’t hate. But why is it in the song? It doesn’t make any sense at all nor does it match the theme. My guess is that it was thrown in because they thought it sounded cool. Remember we’re not dealing with musicians here, just hit makers looking for more cash.

The album’s title track is next and it’s not any better. The sound of this song is just bizarre and couldn’t be any further from country. The rhythm of this song sounds almost exactly like “That’s My Kind of Night” and definitely has the same theme. The only difference is this sounds more like Sam Hunt’s version of “country” instead of bro country. This sounds like an album cut from a Starship album. Bryan’s newest monstrosity released to country radio, “Strip It Down” is next. This is basically Bryan’s version of Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down.” For a song that’s supposed to be sexy, Bryan sure sounds serious. And who the hell finds this crap to be sexy? All I picture is a 40 year-old Bryan lurching at a 16 year-old girl across the bar thinking she’s 18. The definition of creepy! Also this isn’t country at all.

Luke Bryan is joined by Little Big Town’s lead singer Karen Fairchild on “Home Alone Tonight,” a song that almost made me barf into my mouth upon first listen. And I’m just going to say it: they both sound absolutely horrendous in this song. When Fairchild doesn’t sound flat, she sounds distorted. Bryan’s charisma is completely devoid in this song. Oh and the people described in the song are completely unlikable and annoying. It’s about two people going out, partying and taking pictures of each other to send to their exes. What’s the damn point? There isn’t one. “Razor Blade” is another pointless, garbage song. The production in this song and really the majority of this album is grating on the ears. It makes Jay Joyce albums sound under-produced. It’s just another vapid drinking and hooking up song where Bryan tries to be sexy and fails hilariously.

It’s not until the sixth song on the album that there’s something that isn’t completely terrible and that song is “Fast.” It’s a song about life going too fast and trying to enjoy things happening in front of you at the moment. The lyrics are pretty decent, even though they feel reminiscent of “Drink A Beer.” But the big problems with this song are the instrumentation and production. It’s overproduced and isn’t country at all, unless you count drum machines as country because there’s plenty of those. The pace of the song is also too frenetic and doesn’t give the lyrics time to really sink in for the listener. In capable hands, this song could have possibly been good.

The overproduced bullshit continues on “Move.” This is “Country Girl Shake It For Me” version 1,529. I can imagine the only groups of people who would be entertained by such a vapid and shallow song like this are suburban teenage girls and soccer moms who lead boring lives. And you might say it’s out of line for me to mock the fans of Bryan, but you’re wrong. Their basic taste is part of the reason why country radio sucks so much. Of course it’s also equally the radio programmers’ faults for catering to them. Anyway this is another all-around terrible song on an album full of them. Bryan produces another not horrible track in “Just Over.” It’s a heartbreak song with lyrics that aren’t bad. But once again the bad production overshadows a song. There are way too much drums and not enough organ play that you can faintly hear at the beginning of the song. If you completely overhauled the sound of this song to make it country, this song would still need work though.

I said it for “Fast” and I’m going to say it again for “Love It Gone.” This love song has somewhat okay lyrics I guess, but the production is so damn annoying and overbearing that it’s hard to follow the song. I would love to post Zac Brown’s quote about not using real instruments here, but he’s a turncoat bastard on Bryan’s side now. So I’ll just point out how this sounds like every other adult contemporary song posing as country I’ve heard this year. “Way Way Back” is same shit, different song. The club beat is so damn blatant here that I can imagine Bryan was pissing on George Jones’s grave as he recorded this song. This song is a metaphor for it anyway. Bryan isn’t even trying to be country at this point. He’s accepted his role as the old guy desperately clinging to youth to continue to suck on the teat of stardom.

One of Bryan’s closest attempts at sounding country and sincere is on “To The Moon and Back.” It’s a song where Bryan expresses his love for a woman, without sounding like a misogynistic asshole. And it’s not overproduced either. It’s a Christmas miracle! But here’s the thing: it’s under-produced. This song is so lifeless and boring I nearly dozed off halfway through it. Still it’s one of the better ones on the album, but that’s not saying anything. The penultimate song on Kill The Lights is “Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’ Every Day.” It’s the second Dallas Davidson co-write on the album. I hate typing that sentence. It’s one of my least favorite sentences. Usually anything associated with Davidson is just awful and something to avoid at all costs. This song is no different. Many will point out this song sounds country and they’re right, except it still stinks. This is just a callback to the “golden days” of the late 2000s when checklist country dominated radio and was the predecessor to bro country, the predecessor to the current crap on country radio. The people who call themselves “true country folks” and consider Justin Moore an outlaw country artist will love this song, as this song is a masturbatory exercise for them. Also the phrase “red dirt rich” is uttered throughout the song and I’m sure this just pleases you Texas/Red Dirt fans.

Kill The Lights mercifully comes to an end with “Scarecrows.” People who still have respect for Bryan and give him the benefit of the doubt will say this is a good song, but I’m not one of those people. This song will never be a single and that’s all that matters. Bryan is defined by what he releases to radio, not buried album cuts. The song is a heartfelt tune about not forgetting your roots and I can appreciate it in a vacuum. But I would rather imagine scarecrows coming to life and attacking Bryan and the bros hanging out in the cornfields. This image in my head is more entertaining than this album.

I didn’t think it would be possible for Luke Bryan to put out an album worse than his 2013 release Crash My Party and yet he has done it with Kill The Lights. There are so many issues going on with this album that I could have written even more about it, but it’s not worth spending any more time than I have on it. The first half of this album is so atrocious that it’s on level with some of the worst music I have ever reviewed on Country Perspective. The second half of the album has some decent music, but for most casual fans with taste there’s no chance in hell they make it this far into the album. Bryan at this point in his career has become Gumby for Music Row. He’ll bend and contort into whatever is the latest trend. In his last album he pandered to bro country and now he’s giving his own take on the Sam Hunt, R&B styled “country” music. There’s not a single good song on this album, only a few decent ones. Some are giving him a little credit for this, but they shouldn’t. The decent stuff won’t sniff country radio, so to me it’s all moot. Kill The Lights deserves the dishonor of becoming the second album ever on this site to receive the lowest score possible.

Grade: 0/10

 

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33 thoughts on “Album Review – Luke Bryan’s ‘Kill The Lights’, An Exercise in Avoiding Being Country At All Costs

  1. This album is EVEN WORSE than Anything Goes by FGL. And with crap like this, I don’t feel quite as ashamed at liking Luke’s song “Rain is a Good Thing”.

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      • Fuck u y’all don’t know music apparently…. I love you Luke but my favorite are all except one song..that’s kick the dust up…all y’all go to hell and stop hating on a great awesome country singer…let’s see y’all do better

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      • Nice grammar. I love fans who think their favorite artist can do no wrong. You provide plenty of humor to us critics.

        By chance, you wouldn’t happen to know someone named Tami would you?

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  2. “As soon as this album started, I wished it was…”
    [David Caruso puts on sunglasses]
    “Just over.”
    YEAHHHHHH!!!!!!

    But seriously, this album is just plain garbage.
    Maybe not quite a 0 for me. I actually did enjoy “To the Moon and Back,” and even “Scarecrows,” a little bit, but other than that, the album was worthless.

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  3. This spring I was arguing with a pop-country fan of mine who likes Luke Bryan, FGL, Sam Hunt, Jason Aldean, etc. Guess what their defense of Bryan was?
    “Hey, at least he’s country!”

    Hahahahaha!

    Okay, Luke Bryan. Going into this album, you were claiming you were going to be showing some maturity. Some “Drink a Beer”-type songs! (Oh boy, calculated bullshit! Sounds great!) Let’s see what you’ve got that passes as “mature.”

    How about the AMAZING lead single “Kick the Dust Up?” Yep, a stupid, cliched party song that includes lines like “knock, knock, knock goes the diesel” (I still have no idea what that can mean). Maturity at its finest, Luke Bryan. 0/10

    Aaaand………”That’s My Kind Of Night.” Grunting sex noises at the beginning of the song, horrible bro-country lyrics, and a shitty pop-funk-rock production with a banjo thrown in to make it sound “country.” Oh wait, that’s “Kill the Lights.” My bad. 0/10
    😉
    (But seriously, what are these lines supposed to mean:
    “We can make the dark cry”
    “Don’t care where we’ve been”
    “We can just go on what we know”
    Like, really? I’ll be shocked if this isn’t released to radio.)

    Next, we have “Burnin’ It Down.” Creepy pop/R&B sex bullshit. No, wait just a second…that’s “Strip It Down!” Gee, I have no idea why I’m getting these songs mixed up with so many others. Really, I apologize. 😉 😉 😉
    Honestly, I don’t think Bryan NEEDS to imitate these songs to get radio hits, although both were wildly successful. He could make almost any song he wanted to and it would go #1. 0/10

    I was fully expecting “Home Alone Tonight” to be a good song; firstly, because it features Karen Fairchild, who I didn’t think would be caught dead singing a song like this; and secondly, because the title implies a “Need You Now” sort of vibe, which means that it could be at least decently written.
    Instead, we get this song about people hooking up in a bar and then (because of course Bryan must appeal to the annoying pop-culture crap of today’s world) taking selfies with each other and sending them to their exes. I just lost a whole lot of respect for Fairchild. 0/10

    “Razor Blade.” Okay, I THINK the lyrics in this are supposed to be about a woman (whoops, a GIRL) who plays with guys’ minds and apparently doesn’t “cut them” like a knife, but like a razor blade. What’s the damn difference? The chorus is way too long, and it’s not country, obviously. Five songs into the album and the production is sounding like a Sam Hunt album. 0/10

    Was “Fast” Luke Bryan’s idea of “Drink a Beer”-type “depth?” The lyrics here are decent, which saves this song from a 0/10 for me…but it still feels like a ripoff of “Don’t Blink,” except with a tempo that you correctly said doesn’t allow the lyrics time to sink in, Josh, and much weaker, less deep lyricism in the first place. Plus, it’s not country either. 1/10

    Aw, Luke! So you decided to give your mindless little fans some spelling lessons in “Move?” How sweet of you! I’m sure that they’re all so thankful to you now that they know how to spell the words “come” and “move!”
    This is the worst song on the album IMO. Perfect song for Bryan to shake his ass to while on stage. His vocals are unnecessarily aggressive and serious. The spoken-word bridge annoys the hell out of me—literally EVERY mainstream “country” artist is trying it right now. Go fuck yourself, Bryan (or some of your insane 15-year-old girl fans that will scream along to this misogynistic piece of shit. Whatever.) 0/10

    That’s all I have time for right now. I’ll post the rest of my thoughts about the album later today.

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  4. Okay, so here’s my opinion on the part of the album that I didn’t cover in my first comment.

    “Just Over” is, well, the best and most country song on the album up to this point…at least it has an acoustic guitar and faint organ play, but it’s still definitely more an overproduced pop-rock setup. The lyrics are pretty decent, even if they aren’t very original, but they’re hurt by the OVERuse of the word “over” (sorry, terrible pun). Bryan fans will say this is a great, deep heartbreak song…but even if it’s far from being the worst track on the album, it’s still a lame and pathetic excuse for “depth.” 3.5/10

    For some reason, I feel like Bryan’s vocals in the verses of “Love It Gone” sound like his vocals on some other song of his, although I can’t quite put my finger on it. He sang the same notes, if you know what I mean. (On a side note, another similarity between the title track of this album and “That’s My Kind Of Night”: the notes he hits on the lines “We can make some sparks fly/We can make the dark cry” and the lines “Gonna get our love on/Time to get our buzz on” sound extremely similar, if not exactly the same. An attempt to replicate “That’s My Kind Of Night”‘s catchy hooks, I’m guessing.) At any rate, this song just bores me and it’s not country except some acoustic guitar play at the beginning of the song. I don’t know if the line “This night looks good on you” was intentionally put in there as a reference to Jason Aldean’s latest crap single or not, but either way it pisses me off. Also, what does “Put on that kissing angel” mean? 2/10

    Is “Way Way Back” supposed to be about rekindling your “fire” with your lover or something? God, the lyrics in this song are so damn bland, vague, and the chorus is full of dumb cliches. The word “way” is said 24 times throughout the song (I know different words have been repeated more in other songs, *cough* Canaan Smith’s “Stuck,” but it’s still really annoying) but, as you said Josh, the club beat is the thing that really gets on my nerves about this song. 0/10

    Now, here’s the only song on this album that I can say I genuinely enjoy, “To The Moon And Back.” This sounds fairly country, acoustic-driven, and while the lyrics aren’t totally fantastic, they’re above-average (especially for a Bryan song) and make for a pretty good love song IMO. I guess it is kind of under-produced, as you pointed out Josh, but I have to say that’s better than if it had been overproduced. Plus, I really enjoyed the harmonies of the woman on backing vocals. I think this is definitely Bryan’s best song over the course of “Crash My Party” and this album (although that certainly isn’t saying much. 7/10

    Then we get back to the lyrical shit on “Huntin’, Fishin’ And Lovin’ Every Day.” Sure, the instrumentation and production are excellent on this song—the best song production on the album, I think—but that doesn’t overshadow the cliched lyrics and another stupid spoken-word bridge. No wonder this song was written by the Peach Pickers. I don’t give a shit if this is actually what you do every day, Luke Bryan, however much you claim you’re a country boy. Just. Stop. 3/10

    I found “Scarecrows” to be decent, too. The instrumentation is okay on this track as well, with prominent piano and some acoustic guitar and violins as well, although it still leans a little on the pop-rock side. The lyrics also make for an okay nostalgia/remembrance theme, a lot like Jason Aldean’s “Tattoos On This Town.” I also think Bryan’s charisma—which he normally has much more of than he displayed on this album—to be at its best on the album here. But there’s nothing really amazing about this song, and it’ll never hit radio. 5.5/10

    Anything that passes for “mature,” Luke Bryan?
    Um…no. Of course all of his rabid fans will say that songs like “Fast,” “Just Over,” “To The Moon And Back,” and “Scarecrows” are so deep and amazing and that Bryan has matured so much since his last album…but let’s stop kidding around here. If Bryan is still churning out shit like the first five tracks on the album and “Move,” you know he’s still “Gumby for Music Row.” And it’ll be really pathetic and sad when he’s still singing this bullshit in five or six years.

    In the end, I give Bryan and his record label a little credit for at least putting some decent stuff on the album, even though they could’ve made an album that was complete crap through and through. Is this a good or even okay album? HELL NO. The couple of halfway decent songs on this in no way make up for the shit at the beginning. The singles from this are what people will remember, but as a whole I didn’t feel this album quite deserved a 0/10. I see where you’re coming from, Josh, but when all is said and done I’d give “Kill the Lights” a 1/10 grade.

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  5. I never thought I’d be saying this, but I think this review and the rating of this album are a little too harsh. I don’t like bryan and trust me when I tell you that I don’t want him to be successful, but the second half of this album is not terrible. to me, Fast is a good song. maybe a little too boy-ish and a little harder to like because it’s coming from bryan, but it sure is a good one. Just over and love it gone are not that bad either. to the moon and back is quite good and scarecrows is enjoyable enough. hunting, fishing is a great sounding song but sure too checklisty. I don’t see how this album gets a 0/10 while Sam Hunt got a 1/10 and Jason aldean’s crap got a 3/10. I’d rather give this album a 2.5/10 and a 2/10 to aldean for the songs “too fast”, “two night town” and ‘miss that girl’.
    again, I don’t appreciate bryan at all, I’m just sharing my point of view on some songs of this album.

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  6. Agree with the review. Although there may have been some good songs, the bad songs pretty much overshadow the good ones. This is one of the Worst country albums, along with Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes and Big Smo’s Kuntry Livin.

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