Despite the title, The Saltshakers' new album LIGHTS OUT is illuminated with spring-loaded power pop melodies from start to finish. This time, though, the band has a more urgent sound reminiscent of '60s garage rock and the punk movement that followed it. Chad Curtis has grown into his voice, and on LIGHTS OUT he sounds deeper and fuller than before-like a young Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens. New member Nick Woods' tenacious guitar solos are highlights of "This World Can Wear Us Down" and "How When and Why." Fellow newcomer Jamie Owart plays bass like a prize fighter-he goes for the body like a champ but is nimble enough to pepper in some jabs with well-placed runs in songs like "Please Don't Walk Away" and "Take You With Me." LIGHTS OUT is about new love-the period when the flame is strong, but worries over trust and vulnerability threaten to douse it. "It's too early to tell if we will stand the test of time," Curtis sings on lead track "Please Don't Walk Away," but "I think we're worth the fight." The battle against insecurity is also waged with lyrics like "Let's not overthink this" (This World Can Wear Us Down) and "I wanna hear you say 'Cool it-it'll be okay'" (Bedhead). Album standout "Californ-i-a" is an ode to a girl lost to the sunshine state, leaving her would-be Romeo confused but vowing "to remember April and May, not November." The chorus' layered vocals recall the Mamas and the Papas dreaming of L.A.; and when electric piano, soft organ, and a mandolin-like guitar line join in, the resulting crescendo is as poignant as lost love itself. Perhaps the loss of that girl explains why, in the following song "The West Coast," Curtis shouts "The West Coast needs to go" like he's mad King Lear bellowing for cataracts and hurricanes to destroy England, and the whole band calls down a superstorm on the region. Squalling guitar opens the song, like waves crashing in from an angry Pacific; Jon Strelecki's double-time bass drum and floor tom portend earthquakes; and Woods' searing guitar brings lightning to the party. By the third verse, Curtis' distorted vocals sound like he's taken refuge and is singing over an emergency radio band. Rarely have The Saltshakers sounded this muscular. Closing track "Every Day Of The Week" is a rompin' stompin' anthem of youthful aimlessness that, both sonically and lyrically, would fit perfectly on an Oasis album. And it's so good, it may have even made the Gallagher brothers' last album listenable. On Ramones-meet-Beach Boys rocker "Holiday," Curtis sings of breaking big and selling a million records. Despite the song's ambivalent attitude toward that level of success, LIGHTS OUT is a collection of songs that could shake booties from coast to coast...assuming they're both still there.