There is no reason to listen to the Vacant Lots. Even in the most ideal of conditions – i.e, you’re either stoned, drunk, or a barely conscious combination of both on yr pal’s couch – Endless Nights would only oscillate through yr eardrums like a recurring headache. Not even a migraine, cos those shut the whole system down. We’re talkin’ low-grade, humdrum, it’ll-pass-in-a-minute brainfreeze numb. See, this duo just hammers out bite-sized Spiritualized songs, with analogue synths tacked on like cheap rhinestones – which was kinda fun in 2014’s Departure, but now reeks of so much hair gel and bleach that the music itself lacks any flavor of its own.
If Endless Nights was simply bland, I wouldn’t even bother to proceed with this review. I’d just throw out some key phrases and signifiers – 'Pleasure & Pain' is essentially a Doobie Brothers single that’s trying hard to hide its uncool patches; 'Forgotten Days' nods obsequiously to the Doors, like a college intern about to fetch coffee for his employer; 'Suicide Note' is literally Alan Vega barking from the grave over a sterilised Hookworms stem. Stack on that several cheap fade-outs ('Night Nurse' doesn’t even sound like a full song, the way that one just dies) and the by-the-book blues twang in the guitar, and you’ve mostly got eight disposable songs destined for bargain bins and virtual trash cans.
HOWEVER. Not content with just existing as a billowing cloud of vape, the Vacant boys manage to descend from 'meh, whatever' bad to 'aw hell no' bad in the space of two songs. In itself, 'Empty Space' would just elicit eye rolls – the reverse wah-wah intro, the tinkling chimes, the slow acoustic strum feigning humility. But it’s the monotone ramble of existential truisms that taints the whole thing. “Death is an anesthetic for eternity”; “what it is like before we were born is what it is like when we die”, and blah blah blah. Essentially, vocalist Jared Artaud wants us to chillax about dying, cos death is just life without pain, bruh.
And that’s funny, because three songs later, in the most ostensibly Velvet number 'Dividing Light' (you can hear the scissors snipping out the rhythm of 'Cocaine'), Artaud spins out a good ol’ revenge yarn. “My old lady / she made me cry / so I shot her down / I made her die”. Fascinating! So after that whole 'death is life' spiel, about the spiritual freedom of no longer existing and yada yada, Artaud’s protagonist shoots a bitch to punish her with death. Oxymoronic, eh. Seems all that eternity-of-bliss talk slipped his mind when he started writing bout the opposite sex. OOOPS. (And we haven’t even touched the pointless pseudo-acronyms peppered in here to project maximum aloofness: “in my CDA…doin’ OPT…with my LDY”.)
So, let me correct myself. There is almost no reason to listen to the Vacant Lots. The only purpose Endless Nights serves is to remind us what happens when men don’t fucking think before they speak. Complacency glues the lazily stacked clichés of 'Empty Space' and 'Dividing Light' together, and that column props up the tilted obelisk of misogyny that’s anchored rock n’ roll since its infancy. Of course, ask either Lot about my hot take, and they’ll both swear this is all a misunderstanding, or at best an honest mistake. But that only proves my point – namely, that the Vacant Lots are vacant jerk-offs.
1Lee Adcock's Score