The album opens with the devastating one-two punch of the cinematic "California"-which instantly takes it's place alongside such latter-day Cali classics as Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'," David & David's "Welcome to the Boomtown," Beck's "Earthquake Weather" and Mullins' own chart-topper "Lullaby"-and the smoldering, zeitgeist-capturing title track. In terms of their dramatic payloads, these two songs are of a piece, delving into the tattered yet resilient heart of the American Dream. The California setting, to which Mullins returns on "Tinseltown," functions as a microcosm of our collective journey from wide-eyed innocence through bitter experience to the possibility of personal and collective renewal. The thematic thread runs seamlessly into "Light You Up," with it's unsettling spoken verses-"Everybody wants the real deal/Everybody wants to cop a good feel/Everybody wants more money/Everybody wants a taste of your honey"-and intense choruses, as scorching as the San Fernando Valley in August, as Mullins reaches upward to break into his thrilling falsetto: "I just want to light you up/Light you up like a fire/I just want to turn you on/Turn you on and take you higher." Here, as elsewhere, a deeper perspective is embedded in the song's bridge, as Mullins sings, "Yeah this old world can bring you down/Turn your smile into a frown/Break your heart and make you sad/Drive you stark raving mad." Finally, the narrative drops away as the band launches into a surging extended rave-up, further deepening the song's emotional resonance.