Review Summary: The Absolute.
Do you know what emotion is the most striking of them all? It is the one as poignant as any biting sorrow, deadening melancholy or malefic sadness. And it is also much more energy-inducing, life brightening and adrenaline pulsating as any joy, bliss and utter happiness is. The bittersweet. That which merges struggle with triumph, macabre with hope, decay with slight distant light, and pain with ecstasy. It is a piercing combination of two polar opposites, gifting both negativity and positivity at the same time. And I may have stumbled upon the best musical representation of that feeling.
The moment my ears landed upon the first single “Dream State”, I knew I would regret not listening to the entire album. And I am happy that I did. Son Lux have always been a collective with a unique and absolutely magnificent production and compositional capabilities. And their latest album, Brighter Wounds
, is proudly said their most enigmatic and mature effort to date. Their already well established sense of instrumental intricacy and compositional ambition may have found an absolute peak here.
But this album is not just Son Lux’s most stylistically encompassing and atmospherically engulfing album, it also is their most triumphant. But triumphant that is with a strong, crushing feeling of candescent bitterness amidst a hopeful, albeit naïve sweetness. It is like a gratification among ruins and a deceit within ascendancy, all clothed in a cloak of overwhelming, cinematic, masterfully crafted musical grandeur, both subtly chilling and stupendously imposing. There is also a particularly haunting, but strangely calming, feeling of solitude all throughout the record.
The album’s opener, “Forty Screams”, might at first come off as a little confusing musically, but only strengthens its emotional impact as it goes further. Here, Ryan Lott and his rusty, crumbling voice deliver some of their most hellish cracklings. And together with the atmosphere as freezing as the outer space, it is as magnetic and beautiful an opener as it can ever get. With the gorgeous, grandiose following track, the aforementioned single “Dream State”, and all of its background chants and perforating strings this makes for quite an introduction to the album.
However, right after that is what one could by default describe as the album’s low point. It is the slightly dizzied out “Labor”, the most poppy cut on here, “The Fool You Need” (although this one has that beautiful acoustic guitar ending) and trip-hoppy “Slowly”. Those tracks are nowhere close to bad, but considering the skinning nature of the rest of the album, their slightly confused aesthetic fits the flow a little less. The succeeding calm of “All Directions” and more so of “Aquatic” then shows that very cosmic, echoic, luminous direction the triplet before them appears to have been trying to achieve. And because Son Lux never stand on one musical spot, the final track-triptych is both sombre (all things considered) and invigorating.
And just like that it ends. It swings by like a cataclysmic end-of-days euphoria and leaves you sitting in awe. Needless to say that Son Lux have accomplished something special here. Hard to say, whether Brighter Wounds
will stand the test of time, but as for right now, right here, right in this mood and this particular need for beatific gloom of mine, this shall be the soundtrack to every day, until it is no longer needed.