Review Summary: Turn off my phone and live alone in everlasting peace
Lightning Bug creates quietly confident art that is capable of altering perspectives. A Color of the Sky
, the band's first major label release, is a summer soother that absolutely glows
. Lightly plucked, echoing acoustic guitars make the entire experience feel like it is meant to be heard while watching a sunrise, in the still of one's backyard. Soft, ambient pianos seemingly reflect those rays like dew-coverered blades of grass. Audrey Kang's breezy but self-assured vocals are just enough to rustle the trees, making her presence known in this gorgeous soundscape without ever trying to overtake its natural beauty. It's an album full of breathtaking atmospheres and textures, a piece of music ready-made to transport your mind and soul.
It's not all ethereal musings, though, and that's what paints A Color of the Sky
in more defined, graspable, and ultimately relatable
hues than your average dream-pop/shoegaze/indie-rock outing. There's a burgeoning passion within each song - one that tends to start meekly, almost shy - but that always manages to break through in an impressive way. On 'September Song, pt. ii', it's the splendorous, effervescent guitars and that half-hollow, half-authoritative splattering of percussion that makes the destination just as beautiful as the journey. 'I Lie Awake' similarly erupts, with cascading drums that blur into searing electric riffs and screeching synths. It's not a series of generic post-rock build-ups, though - the progressions are far too fluid and unreliable to be mapped out as "build-ups" and "climaxes". There's a languid approach here that allows the record to sort of effortlessly flow wherever it wants to. On the stunning title track, for example, Lightning Bug cut away from the song's acoustic ballad trajectory halfway through to bring us a movement of rising and falling strings/synths; it's a serenade so genuinely poignant and soul-penetrating that it feels restorative. Moments of emotional clarity like this aren't vied for constantly, but are instead allowed to grow organically. That's part of what makes this experience so magical - Lightning Bug aren't trying to make
you feel so much as they are creating a space for you to do so on your own.
Of course if you tune into the lyrics, making strong personal connections is effortless. Lang is a poet throughout A Color of the Sky
, lamenting lost love while questioning her place in the universe. One of her most striking verses comes on 'Song of the Bell', where a gradual realization is made that she's singing about herself: "If I empty me of all my self, will I feel hollow? Will I feel free? Will the truth echo through me? Will I hear it?" Themes of loss and grief surface frequently, whether it's an introspective gaze or longing for someone who is no longer in your life: "The colors burn stronger and the feelings burn true / And even the flowers smell more like you." The writing here suggests that Lang has endured a lot recently, a sentiment wrapped up by one of the album's opening lines - an expression of sheer exhaustion, or even utter disgust: "I think I'll learn to live my life as wisely as a monk / Turn off my phone and live alone in everlasting peace." These aren't ideas that just pop into your head one night. Lang suffered for them, and a resultant feeling of catharsis emanates from this aesthetic, emotional, and lyrical masterwork.
Lightning Bug has been around for a while - since their 2015 debut Floaters
, to be precise - but they've rarely sounded this in-tune with each other or this certain of their purpose. It's gorgeously arranged, amazingly textured, and evocative in ways that only patient music can be. A Color of the Sky
is in no rush, and its goal seems to be to slow you down as well. It beckons you to take notice of your surroundings, breathe, and find some level of inner peace. If you are a willing participant, Lightning Bug will show you the way.