Flashlight Running Season

Somewhere in between their charming carefree debut and this, their second release, Guelph/Toronto ska-punkers Flashlight lost their ramshackle nature and became a powerhouse band of tour hounds, an intensity that’s now captured on disc. It lends force to their poppier moments (“You Smell,” the great single “Sonia Bianchi”) and attempts to prop up more than a few throwaway songs (“New York City,” “Times”). For better and worse, their songwriting has lost its novelty nature; now they’re older, wiser and capable of writing an ultimate, heartfelt piss’n’dis like “July,” an acoustic guitar/upright bass/no drums ska ballad like “This Year,” or a reggae instrumental (“Leo”), all of which are album highlights. Although they still occasionally slip into formulaic ska-punk, an unsuspecting hook will pop up on songs like “New Old” or “Fatso” to set things straight. Running Season is uneven, but proves that Flashlight are creative and capable enough to be one of the few bands to endure after trends move on. (Double A)