Review Summary: Happy are we...
Lydia are a band that have seen their fair share of turmoil. 2010 found the band in shambles after founding members Steve McGraw and Leighton Antelman had a falling out of sorts, leading to their farewell tour and subsequent demise. But after a single year Lydia felt the need to mount a comeback, a comeback that turned out to be a blessing, with their 2011 release seeing the band return to the glory of 2008’s Illuminate
. With a sudden return to prominence and ensuing announcements of a 2013 release, the pressure was on Lydia to release another stellar album. Devil
is just that… A stellar album. While it doesn’t do much to advance the sound present on Paint It Golden
, this release employs enough subtle differences to be its own entity, without sacrificing what has made Lydia successful in the past.
The biggest shift from their past releases would be the tempo; songs often find themselves playing faster than a Lydia song has before, which is not all that fast in the first place. That, coupled with the fact that this record seems to be more guitar driven than recent offerings, makes for one of the more interesting albums from these young men out of Gilbert, Arizona. Infectious hooks are still repeated as many times as possible, but there seems to be a certain level of depth behind them, not often heard within the genre. Lead singer/guitarist Leighton Antelman seems to be rejuvenated in every sense of the word; the introspective lyrics absent during the course of the Assailants are present, along with more interesting guitar lines. The guitar fits perfectly with the abundance of keys and piano found on this release, as well as with the rest of the vast instrumentation on this release.
Songs such as Back to Bed
showcase an obvious progression in regards to songwriting, the former starting off acoustic, and slowly burns for three minutes before settling back down for a subdued outro comprised solely of acoustic guitar and whistles. Throughout the entire ten tracks there is rarely an opportunity for listeners to forfeit their focus, as every track includes something to grab their attention. Be it a banjo on Runaway
or an organ on the beautiful album closer From A Tire Swing
, tracks often forgo typical instrumentation while embracing typical song structures. Although female vocals have disappeared with the departure of Mindy White in 2009, an added vocal layer is added through the uses of choirs and layered, reverb-drenched vocals, adding to the overall atmosphere of songs, nowhere as evident as Now I Know
, for all of its melancholic or heartbreaking lyrics, is an album from a band that seems to be enjoying what they are doing for a living again. The best album Lydia have released since 2008, Devil
finds the band hitting their sweet-spot and crafting songs that are equal parts catchy and reflective.