From the outside looking in, the glamorous complex of shining edifices that constitute the metropolis is too obvious to ignore. All of the concentrated wealth and prestige that is intrinsically linked to the concept of city life is enough to cause any outsider to dream big. However, you may find out that it is all sparkle and no substance. Indie rock band Modern Folklore explores the allure of being where the action is in their new single, “City Lights,” and, in turn, finding out that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be.
“City Lights” mixes it up between the grittiness of guitar and lively synth to represent both sides of the urban environment. Through this dueling soundscape, it is easy to picture yourself looking skyward in awe of the glimmering modern monuments all around you. However, back on the ground, the unforgiving, concrete jungle reminds you that appearances aren’t promises of prosperity. Much like the hustle and bustle of this melody, the city is a frenzy of people who are entangled in the same rat race without the guarantee of finding their piece of cheese at the end of it.
One of the prevailing themes of “City Lights” is the idea of having sacrifice your “self” in order to belong somewhere. From the perspective of the traveler to the “big city,” they aren’t enamored with what they see because they figured out “what it cost to shine that bright.” It’s a question of whether you want to delete your identity and become nameless, as well as faceless, in a giant populace.
A unique addition to this track is the inclusion of an audio excerpt from free speech activist Mario Savio’s famous 1964 “Bodies On The Gears’ ‘ speech. It talks about metaphorically throwing yourself “upon the gears…levers…the apparatus” when “the operation of the machine becomes so odious.” In reference to “City Lights,” it is about questioning your fit and function within the society that you thought you wanted to join.
Over the course of “City Lights,” you might confront yourself with personalized existential questions of your own. If you start questioning the meaning of life itself, then you may need to step back from the edge. What Modern Folklore has done is cram enough free thought capacity into a neat, four minute package.
Written by Travis Boyer
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