When Luke Bryan subtitled his final collection of Spring Break EPs "Checkin' Out," he made no bones about his maturation: now that he's a man, he's giving up his childish ways. Kill the Lights -- Bryan's fifth album, delivered just five months after that farewell to Spring Break debauchery -- is unabashedly the work of a man who is beginning to feel the weight of encroaching middle age, but Bryan isn't running away from the good times he celebrated as a younger man. Sure, there are suggestions that he's feeling the weight of his years -- he notices how "60 seconds now feel more like 30," then compares his beating heart to the skips on a CD -- but Bryan isn't living for yesterday, he's duetting with Little Big Town's Karen Fairchild about texting pictures to their exes to stoke jealousy while singing the title song to a neo-new wave disco beat that could also pass as EDM.
Anthony Easton’s ideas about Bryan and pleasure seem as good a place to start as any, when it comes to tackling Luke Bryan’s new album Kill the Lights. Or at least the notion of pleasure as central to his music came to mind for me, on first listen, by the third song of the album, when Bryan puts into our brains the sound of his belt buckle coming loose and his jeans hitting the floor. That song, “Strip It Down”, is about a couple stripping everything away—their clothes, obviously, but also slamming their cell phones down—to try and get back to what they used to be.
You can leave your headlamps on for only so long. Eventually, the battery’s gonna die. Judging by the title of Luke Bryan’s fifth record, Kill the Lights (and maybe by his Yankee Candle promotion), he understands this. This year, he ended both his annual Spring Break concert and the accompanying series of extended plays.
"I'm not an outlaw country singer," Luke Bryan recently informed a journalist. No shit: He's a platinum-selling bro-country standard-bearer, a stadium-packing spring-break soundtracker, a good ol' boy you could bring home to Mom — a pop star with a drawl, a ball cap and a Chevy Z71 full of cheeseball power-ballad guitar lines. Bryan's fifth studio album is well-turned Nashville radio bait, trite yet undeniable, sure to drive up bar tabs in 50 states and beyond.
Earlier this year, Luke Bryan bid spring break adieu. The Georgia-born country singer, who had developed something of a cottage industry around EPs and concerts celebrating the annual collegiate bacchanal, released “Spring Break . . . Checkin’ Out,” a compilation of previous beaches-and-beers ….
Luke Bryan, seen performing in June, has a new album, "Kill the Lights. " Luke Bryan, seen performing in June, has a new album, "Kill the Lights. " At this point, is anyone in country music not trying to crash Luke Bryan’s party? Back in the mid to late 2000s, when he began his slow climb to the top of the Nashville heap, this crinkly eyed charmer looked like just another member of country’s suburban insurgence, a beer-drinking, truck-driving, ball-cap-wearing bro more or less understood along the same lines as Dierks Bentley or Rodney Atkins or Eric Church.
LUKE BRYAN “Kill the Lights” (Capitol/Nashville) 2 Stars FRANK TURNER “Positive Songs For Negative People” (Interscope) 4 Stars THE “BRO-country” trend can only take you so far. That seems to be the thinking behind Luke Bryan’s new album, “Kill the Lights.” It follows up a disc — 2013’s “Crash My Party” — that made Bryan the top-selling country star of that year and third overall, right behind Eminem and Justin Timberlake. That record arguably made Bryan the king of bro-country.