Lights Out With the Sneetches is not quite the San Francisco band's proper debut album; its eight songs were recorded by singer/songwriters Matt Carges and Mike Levy between 1985 and 1988 as demos not intended for release. That said, it's a terrific, febrile pop album nearly the equal of their official debut, 1989's Sometimes That's All We Have. The songs are mostly on the soft and vaguely folky side, with tunes like "54 Hours" and "Only for a Moment" sounding like the spiritual successors to the Beau Brummels. The main exception is the handclap-driven "I Don't Expect Her for You (Look at That Girl)," which is perky and catchy enough to have been a hit for Herman's Hermits. Carges and Levy's lyrics take a few odd turns ("Home Again" and "In My Car" are almost agoraphobic in their stated preference for privacy), but the songs are so richly melodic that this barely even registers. Both the Kaleidoscope Sounds and Creation releases of this album are vinyl only. All eight songs, remixed, appeared on the excellent Alias compilation 1985-1991.
Lights Out with the Sneetches Review
by Stewart Mason