Review Summary: Lunik move away from the generic pop of their last few albums in favor of a more subtle and personal approach.
Around the time of Lunik’s fourth album, Preparing to Leave
, something started to feel like it was missing. The most obvious response was to highlight the band’s removal of the electronics as the culprit and be done with it. At the time that answer seemed to make total sense, but it now appears to have been wrong. At the same time that the band was removing the electronics in favor of an upbeat pop direction, a more subtle transition was also taking place. As the pop took a stronger hold over the music, the emotional connection slowly suffered. It was a subtle transition that most probably missed, but Small Lights in the Dark
highlights the issue clearly. It does so by replacing the sterile pop with some of the most solemn music and personal lyrics in the band’s career, and suddenly nothing feels like it’s missing anymore.
When asked about the lyrical concept, Jael stated that "...lights in the dark are a common sign of hope and I have realized to let go of my worries. Everything now just comes down to the songs themselves – they are my small lights.” Artists often embellish or exaggerate when speaking of their own works, but that description is actually very accurate. Small Lights in the Dark
is a collection of songs about perseverance despite anything that could be wrong in your life. It’s a darker premise than fans might be used to, but it works. When Jael sings, “I’m used to my sadness / it’s always there like a cold embrace / At least it makes me feel alive / and it makes me feel safe / I know how to handle that / It’s my indifference that scares me to death,” it almost feels as if you’re intruding on her private thoughts. These types of very personal themes run throughout the entire album, and the emotions that are attached to them are a welcome return.
Musically, the band has adjusted to accommodate these solemn subjects by doing away with the upbeat tempos of the last few releases. The songs now range from slow ballads to moderately paced pop that alternates enough to keep the album from feeling lethargic. They’ve also reduced the role of the music in order to let the vocals take center stage. Most of the songs on this album are built around Jael’s voice with unobtrusive acoustic guitars, subtle percussion and delicate piano providing a suitable (if a bit inconspicuous) backdrop. This approach doesn’t allow for the instant hooks that the band are generally known for and it will take a few listens to become familiar with the songs, but it is worth the effort. Besides, it’s nice to hear Jael handle the increased workload with ease and it’s easy to hear why she is constantly asked to do guest vocals for other bands.
Over the course of the last few albums it seemed as if the band were losing their identity. They were slowly trading away their electronic and trip hop elements in favor of a vanilla form of pop. Worse, it seems that they were also losing their emotional element in the process. Small Lights in the Dark
fixes a lot of those issues with its deeply personal lyrics and a fresh approach to the acoustic pop sound that they’ve fully embraced. The lack of electronics is finally a non-issue as the band seems to have finally found a niche that embraces their fondness for pop hooks while still delivering on the emotional element that had been missing for far too long.