Review Summary: Lunascape return to the trip-hip and electronica of their debut album, but do so in a much more refined and interesting way.
I’ve been listening to Hooverphonic
for quite a while and I’m fully aware that their debut album had a different vocalist who left soon after its release, and I also know that they used a woman by the name of Kyoko Baertsoen to fill in until finding a permanent replacement. The thing I don’t know is why it took me so long to follow up on these two vocalists to see what they’re doing these days. While I still haven’t followed up on their original vocalist, I did research Kyoko Baertsoen and found that she was in a trip hop band of her own called Lunascape. By the time I had found Lunascape they had already released two albums; their debut was chill trip hop and their sophomore album was much more alternative/pop rock with electronic elements. I also found out that they were on the verge of releasing their third album titled Innerside
and I wondered which direction it might take.
I have to say that I like both their previous albums, but it made me happy to find out that they returned to their trip hop roots on this release and simply incorporated the poppy elements to make the songs more memorable. The general makeup of a Lunascape song includes chill beats, warm keyboard melodies, pulsating synth, minor clean guitar, and the soothing vocals of Kyoko Baertsoen. Opening track, “Outside”, embodies those elements perfectly and also has a chorus that will stick with you before the song is even completely over. Fortunately the band understands, though, that too much of even a good thing can become redundant and boring and they do take steps to offer some variation to the album.
The first single, “Surrender”, is one of those variations presented on the album. This song is the only one to take a direct cue from the rock leanings of their second album. Basically, it is a well executed pop rock song complete with a standard rock beat, big chorus and overall upbeat feel, but it also incorporates waves of synth and an echoing piano melody that helps it stand apart from a typical song in the genre. The biggest surprise, though, is the band’s inclusion of three songs that are heavily influenced by 1980s EBM; if you’ve heard old Front 242
or Evils Toy
you should know what I’m talking about. The first song to present that style is “Counterclock Desire” and it comes complete with a “four-on-the-floor” beat as well as layered, pulsating synths that combine to create the rhythms and melodies. The other songs to present that style are “Electro Love” and “Chemical Lingo”, but they each present that style in a different manner allowing them to not just sound like a copy of the initial song.
I’m glad that I eventually got around to checking this band out, and it appears that I did so at the best time because this album is the best and most diverse of their career to date. They’ve managed to take the trip hop sound and make it their own through the use of warm synth melodies, great vocals and memorable choruses. They’ve also managed to shake things up a little through the surprising inclusion of three songs featuring a huge EBM influence. I don’t know how well this album is doing within the electronica community but I couldn’t see how it wouldn’t easily appeal to fans of Hooverphonic or Portishead
as well as to those that gravitate towards soothing female vocals and catchy, almost ambient sounds. The band has even done one better and offers a deluxe version of this album that includes a second disc full of remixed songs and hard-to-find tracks that I would highly recommend springing for.