Tombstones in Their Eyes (TITE) is a California-based band with John Treanor providing vocals and guitar. The group takes hints from a variety of rock-adjacent sounds, including psychedelic and alt-rock as well as garage and noise music. Their latest project, titled Looking For A Light, is the band’s fifth album, a follow-up to 2020’s Collection.
When TITE kicks off their latest, it’s hard to get excited. “Quarantine Blues” is a song that could have been insightful and hyper-relevant. Its title is direct enough to avoid a summary of the lyrics, a warning of the song’s surface-level retelling of a COVID-era story we’ve heard before. Sure, Treanor’s lyrics are relatable and nothing to joke about; his reflection on anxiety and depression is truthful and real, but as the singer begins to repeatedly drone the song’s title to scrounge up a chorus, “Quarantine Blues” becomes a boring listen. Later, when the third track “Hey” arrives, the same tedious listening experience is found thanks to an overly simple melody and instrumentals that buzz without focus.
“Hey” isn’t the only track on Looking For A Light that struggles with instrumentals. Much of the album sounds like a bolder project is hiding behind marketing worries. Paul Roessler produced the project, taking Treanor’s guitar and Stephen Striegel’s drums to make songs that hover near abrasion. It’s unfortunate that the band seems hesitant to embrace a noisier sound. “Maze,” the closer, bursts with guitar from the start, like the group wants to dive into louder, more experimental structures but isn’t ready to commit to the aesthetic.
Looking For A Light is notably happier than TITE’s past work. The band’s EP Nothing Here uses much of the same sonic palette as Looking For A Light, but Treanor’s 2018 lyrics take time to understand themselves and present a more compelling narrative of emotional struggle. That isn’t to say that a hopeful album can’t be interesting. But as a band exploring ideas relatively novel to their catalog, more development will need to happen before their brighter outlook becomes engaging.