Review Summary: Lydia correct the flaws from "This December" and make one hell of a record.
Lydia’s first album, “This December, It’s One More And I’m Free”, is an immensely disappointing and annoying album. It is not because the album is completely terrible but because the band never really realizes their potential and makes the same flaws throughout the whole album. The album had no flow and it sort of sounded like a “Greatest Hits” album, as every track was trying to be the greatest song of all time and do something completely different from the last track. This became an extreme annoyance and problem with the album, and it was almost like Lydia was trying to be too good and too epic of a band. But I always thought if Lydia could correct the previous albums flaws: the flow, the songwriting, and if they tried to make the songs more accessible, that there next album “Illuminate” could be one of the surprises of the year and be a really superb album.
The first flaw Lydia had to correct is the flow of the album, and they do a tremendous job of that on “Illuminate”. The track-to-track flow on this album is absolutely amazing. As flow is concerned this might as well be considered the “Abbey Road” or “Ok Computer” of the indie genre. You really think that you are listening to one big song that is forty minutes long and it works out beautifully. There are three examples of where this works perfectly: The guitar riff at the end of “A Fine Evening For A Rogue” is very relaxing and it flows swiftly into the electronic based beat like structure of the next track “Hospital”. “Hospital” has a crunchy, edgy, and loud guitar lift that leads into a soft electric guitar and soft drums on the song “Fate” “Fate” has a soft and depressing sort of feel to it yet it flows decently into one of the albums only poppy and optimistic songs in “Sleep Well”. It is not only this albums instrumental flow that is elite, but also the way the lyrics flow together from song to song and seem to tell a story. “All I See”, seems to be talking about someone that is hospitalized or is in an accident and how everything around them scares them almost to death, but “One More Day” has the message that if this person can get through this for “one more day” that they will be ok. In the song “Ha Yeah It Got Pretty Bad” the instruments and the intensity of the lyrics make us think that the main character has done something worth regretting and in the last song “Now The One You Once Loved Is Leaving”, we find out through male and female vocals what the exact situation is with this couple. This adds an extra and unexpected addition to a band that has already improved drastically on its flow from there last album.
The songwriting on Lydia's previous album seemed forced and almost to dramatic all of the time. On this album not only do you get a more relaxed atmosphere [as mentioned in the above paragraph], but you also find a relaxed, reflective, and not forced style of songwriting. The perfect example of this is the song, "All I See", probably the softest song on the album. This is a spot normally where Lydia would make the lyrics way to dramatic, but on this song they are very relaxed and fit the music nicely. Throughout the album you will see that Lydia's lyrics stick to the story that the album is telling and are very relaxing and reflective.
Another area where Lydia has dramatically improved is their ability to make songs simpler, but not have the songs lose there meaning. Most the songs on hear hover around the four-minute mark, and that may seem like a lot of time to some people. But you must consider that Lydia are filling this time with either improved lyrics or are showing off their newfound instrumental skills. The songs here contain a lot of unique things that are done instrumentally, for example, in the song "One More Day" there is a really cool piano solo followed by an extremely rough guitar riff that somehow flows into the epic chorus. Lydia is more of a generic rock band on this album, but when they do revert back to there "piano rock" roots they do a great job.
It is rare that you see a band in modern music improve from album to album as much as Lydia has. They have corrected all of there obvious flaws and improved by leaps and bounds over their last record. This is not only the surprise record of the year but it may be one of the contenders for record of the year.
Only 10 songs
Not enough hooks
All I See
This Is Twice Now
One More Day
A Fine Evening For A Rogue