Lights and Motion
Save Your Heart


4.0
excellent

Review

by stepmaniac USER (19 Reviews)
November 12th, 2013 | 62 replies


Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nobody else will save it for you...

What do you do after releasing one of the most acclaimed debuts of the year? That's the question overnight post-rock sensation Christoffer Franzen, better known to his fans as Lights & Motion, had to answer. After releasing Reanimation, he soon found his songs in film trailers, fan videos and even the Oscar ceremonies. Whatever he'd do next, one thing was for sure: the world would be watching with eager eyes.

In that light, what's most impressive about his follow-up Save Your Heart, following Reanimation only ten months after its release, is that it truly feels like the next step in Franzen's self-realization as a musician. He very easily could have capitalized on his newfound fame by pumping out another LP of fist-pumping instrumental rock and called it a day. Instead, Save Your Heart finds him shading in new facets of his musical identity, even as it retains many of the same things that made everybody fall in love with him in the first place.

Franzen calls himself a "painter of sound," a musician whose mission is to convey something vivid and beyond our world, and his latest certainly shades in his palette some. Reanimation was a gauntlet of peaks after peaks after peaks, an inspiring but occasionally exhausting trip into euphoria; Save Your Heart, on the other hand, counters the joy with a bit more gravity. The somber piano chords that open "Heartbeats" set an introspective tone, and when twinkly xylophone melodies find their way in, they're pitched against four-on-the-floor bass drum and marching band snares, grounding the ethereal melodies some. Even when the track explodes into a blitz of soaring strings and drums, it's not quite a triumph: it feels like something more.

At times, Save Your Heart demands the listener's patience, but for good reason. "Sparks" opens with chilly guitar melodies and gradually adds on more, revealing intricacies as it continues to layer - but its most powerful moment is its ending, where instead of bursting at the seams it opts to strip down to its most essential elements. It's a small moment but a nice change of pace and a reminder of Franzen's gift for melody even in humbler settings. "Shimmer" progresses in a more conventional manner, but its pleasures are more subtle than expected, the atmosphere hushed and warm even at its most intense. It's "Snow," however, that best delivers on its promises. The seven-minute track begins simply with a whimsical, wordless vocal refrain and a recurring piano line, but gradually it reveals a much more complex structure. Midway, the anticipated build-up stops for just a moment and we're treated to a quiet passage led by strings, only for the other instruments to come back in for one last go. The minute of ambient noise closing the song hits just the right note: peaceful but lush with possibilities, the winter teeming with unexpected life.

Peer a little closer at the picture Franzen paints, however, and you'll see the frost forming at the edges. Coming from an artist known for soundtracking the epic side of life, Save Your Heart is surprisingly raw, even melancholy. Ambience is a prominent force: many of the songs don't end so much as they melt away, and this effect permeates the entire album with an unsettling ambiguity, as if there's something dark lurking in the corners of these compositions. "Bright Eyes," for instance, may soar momentarily, but its whisper of an ending scatters wispy electronic synths in the wind, a sobering postscript to a brief moment of transcendence. Franzen also makes good use of empty space to convey feeling: on "Crystalline," he brings the piano to the forefront, letting its lonely melodies sink into the listener's consciousness. The drums kick in, the strings rise, and the guitar gets thicker, but everything falls around the piano, more a manifestation of the sadness than a response to it.

Yet Franzen counters the cold with fiery abandon, making for some of the most visceral moments of his career so far. Save Your Heart's shorter length works to his benefit here: though Reanimation's scope sometimes prevented him from getting too big too soon, here he can tap into his passion without reserve. "Orbit" gets in and out in under two minutes, just enough time for its swirls of noise to coalesce into something more foreboding before "We Are Ghosts" takes over and kicks off the album's ending stretch with a big bang. Composed as a dichotomy, the song first lays out its sadness in desolate piano chords before setting it all ablaze in a glorious burst of light. The towering "Atlas" and the explosive title track follow, each offering its own emotional resolution and closing the album on a reaffirming note.

Critics of Reanimation held its unabashedly uplifting nature against it: they argued that music offering such a simple way to catharsis was too cheap, too easy. With Save Your Heart, however, Franzen reminds us that it's never easy to overcome our small tragedies, to hold onto our dreams, to embrace our best selves - precisely why he has to do this, to at least try and forge a better vision from the darkness. Lights & Motion may have come back down to earth, but he’s won my heart by saving his own.



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user ratings (30)
3.1
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
stepmaniac
November 12th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

album comes out today, so I thought I'd give it some love. probably my favorite work from Lights & Motion so far.



the entire thing's streaming on Deep Elm: http://deepelmdigital.com/album/save-your-heart

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2013


16479 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

NO WAY I FORGOT ABOUT THIS!!!!





will obtain.

Digging: Peace'd Out - Feelings Blade

stepmaniac
November 12th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

if you loved Reanimation you're going to love this : )

Calc
Contributing Reviewer
November 12th 2013


16479 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It was awesome, I heard he was releasing something else but i completely forgot.

stepmaniac
November 12th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It was supposed to be an EP, but I guess he got inspired and stretched it into another LP :lol:



Oh yeah, by the way, he also writes a bunch of film music (and posts it to his Facebook page). I found out last week that he compiled 19 of his film tracks into another release: http://deepelmdigital.com/album/more-film-tv-music



Dude's a total machine.

minty901
November 12th 2013


3931 Comments


did i read this review elsewhere already?

JS19
November 12th 2013


7465 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Yeah I have never heard this guy so changing that asap

stepmaniac
November 12th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@minty: if you read MuzikDizcovery then you may have! this is a slightly revised version of my review for MD, though.

JS19
November 12th 2013


7465 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is so hollow

stepmaniac
November 12th 2013


202 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ah...well, you're not the only person who's had that reaction, lol. a lot of people find his sensibility a little bit too uplifting/sweeping/idk (personally I love it but I see the other side's pov too). I appreciate that you at least gave him a shot, though :0)

JS19
November 12th 2013


7465 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I really like that kind of music though usually, this is just so saccharine. Makes me feel like I'm watching that uplifting bit at the end of every reality tv show. I really should like this though

minty901
November 12th 2013


3931 Comments


so fucking uplifting, this guy's music. it's not original but if you take it at face value, it's god damn beautiful. try to pretend you'd never heard post-rock before.

JS19
November 12th 2013


7465 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm not sure I can do that but I get your point...

IslamicPenguins
November 12th 2013


72 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I really liked his debut, but this is exactly what JS19 said, television background music.

Drummerboy123
November 12th 2013


3096 Comments


This sounds sweet as fuck. Yet another artist that Sputnik introduces me to.

Winsomniac
November 12th 2013


8694 Comments


This seems pretty fun, nice melodic arpeggios and ambient overtones or some music-related jargon that I only have a cursory understanding of.

I think I still prefer acts like Maybeshewill when it comes to this kind of thing, but quite good nonetheless.

minty901
November 12th 2013


3931 Comments


snow is the best track on here probably. debut was less varied but had better songs.

Kubrick
November 12th 2013


793 Comments


I am the only one who is a little put-off by the fact that Snow has the EXACT same piano melody as Victory Rose from his debut? It's played at almost an identical tempo and is just shifted down an octave..

minty901
November 12th 2013


3931 Comments


never noticed that. victory rose was a great song so im not surprised i like snow so much. i dont see it as a bad thing necessarily, if anything its a cool throwback. lots of bands give nods to their earlier works. good find.

Kubrick
November 13th 2013


793 Comments


Eh, idk man. Snow is supposed to be the centerpiece of the album. To just blatantly recycle a piano line verbatim from your 10-month-old album and use it as the entire foundation to the centerpiece of your new album feels a little...lazy? Idk something about that rubs me the wrong way.

This guy is so talented as a producer. His music sounds absolutely stunning. But at the same time you can definitely hear his lack of musical training in his songwriting. He relies on very similar (and in some cases identical) baselines, rhythms, and arpeggios for so many songs. If you take any of the songs in isolation they sound fantastic but when you try to listen to them all in a row it becomes pretty obvious that there just isn't a whole lot of creative breadth here.



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