Review Summary: Reunited with a long-lost love.
Looking at Lydia’s discography, it’s kind of a bummer. The band started out incredibly strong, with 2005’s This December being a very solid debut as an emerging emo/indie band. But it was really their 2008 follow up Illuminate that solidified them as one of the best new bands in the scene. It’s an incredible album, drenched in a palpable atmosphere of loss. It’s a perfect soundtrack to autumn weather as the temperature cools and leaves begin to fall, many people can relate to the isolated feeling as a relationship falls apart and you cling to the last gimmers of hope that it will work out.
I first discovered Lydia in the mid 2000’s. Their song “Smile You Won” was featured on the Atticus: Dragging the Lake, Vol. 3 compilation. If you’re not familiar with the Atticus compilations, they we’re pieced together to feature the best emerging bands in pop-punk, post-hardcore and emo from the clothing line Atticus, formed and operated by Blink 182’s Tom DeLonge and Mark Hoppus. The compilations were wonderfully constructed (especially Vol. 3) and help cultivate a thriving scene and introduce many bands that are still going strong today. Dragging the Lake, Vol. 3 helped introduce many young listeners to bands like Taking Back Sunday, Motion City Soundtrack, Alexisonfire, Funeral for a Friend and Saosin.
I always found Lydia’s featured track on the compilation to be quite haunting and unique, with its shuffling drum beat, female vocal touches and catchy piano lines. I dove into the album: This December; It’s One More and I’m Free and was impressed, yet not totally hooked as the album is quite inconsistent and at times just skippable. Still, twinkly tunes like It’s in Your Blood, Always Move Fast and Fools and Luxury held up as emo anthems worth revisiting.
As stated earlier the follow up, Illuminate, took everything the debut did right and perfected it. It holds up as one of the best sophomore albums and a must listen in the genre. The band surprisingly announced a “farewell tour” shortly after and I was able to see them in a small club in Denver where they sounded just as good as the album. So much for “farewell” as the band returned a mere two years later, albeit without vocalist Mindy White, to release a string of very passable albums that never reached the highs of Illuminate, while always attempting too. Which brings us to their low point with 2018’s Liquor, a stinker of an album that had many fans wondering why they were even trying.
Well, I'm happy to say that 2020’s revisit/remake of This December, now titled: This December (A Favorite of My Dreams), breaks the streak of bad releases. It’s a very engaging listen for fans of the 2005 album, as all songs are completely reworked from the ground up with only the lyrics, structure and some key riffs and melodies remaining. It is fun to listen to the reimagining, and it is some of the best work the band has put out since 2008. The new version of It’s in Your Blood is especially beautiful and stands up there with the best tracks on Illuminate. It showcases the poppy production the band has used as of late and the mixes here are very dense, with lots of effects and flourishes over the guitars keys and drums. It’s also nice to hear vocalist Maria Sais De Sicilia back with the band after being absent since the debut. While she isn’t the greatest singer in the world, there is certainly some nostalgia hearing her voice and lines again.
I hope this can be a recharge for the band and they can release something close to the same level as Illuminate, although I wouldn’t hold your breath. The band seems to be inspired and given their consistent output of music; I doubt they’re going anywhere. This December (A Favorite of My Dreams) is a great listen, especially for fans of the original album and it’s really cool to see a band completely reimagine one of their albums instead of a simple “remaster”.