40 Watt Sun
Perfect Light


4.5
superb

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
January 21st, 2022 | 228 replies


Release Date: 01/21/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An essential listen (see fine print, restrictions apply)

Perfect Light comes to the listener fully formed, sounding even upon first listen like an iconic 90’s slowcore classic. How’d we get here, though? A little context adds meaning to this album, with the new music marking a (very impressive) endpoint to a process well over a decade in the making. In short, 40 Watt Sun’s mastermind Patrick Walker first gained a reputation as the frontman for revered British doom metallers Warning. With the demise of that group, 40 Watt Sun was born and has (now) released a total of three widely-spaced out albums. Debut The Inside Room , released in 2011, could easily be described as doom, although leavened with slowcore/post-rock influences. Its follow-up, 2016’s Wider Than The Sky was more-or-less the reverse, with slowcore and post-rock now clustered with residual traces of doom metal. Now, with the long-awaited trifecta completed, the doom elements are fully gone, with Perfect Light marking the triumph of Walker’s clearly-evident infatuation with 90’s slowcore, in both sound and spirit. And it’s really f*cking good.

This album’s songs can be easily boxed into the slowcore genre, with a significant side of folk and maybe a touch of post-rock. As such, these tunes are all slow (consider the odds…), subtly beautiful, and crushingly melancholy. However, the essence of Perfect Light does sidestep the most brutally depressing slowcore bent, instead opting towards the “wallowing but not completely without hope” camp. The folky aspects here do wonders in adding glimmers of warmth and life to what could otherwise be a very bleak sonic canvas. Even so, though, this is a record which will not be for everyone, and 40 Watt Sun seem to go out of their way to warn listeners of this. Album opener “Reveal” is arguably the most sparse and skeletal of all the release’s lengthy tunes, quickly serving notice to repel skeptics of the extremities of the record’s style. Later songs open up a little more with beautiful arrangements, even if the necessities of sluggish speeds and restrained demeanor are rarely (if ever) compromised. Every track is wonderful in its own stately way, although some like “Behind My Eyes” (if there’s a better song released by the end of 2022, we’re in for a good year) and the mellow “The Spaces In Between” do emerge as highlights. “Until” also stands out with its stronger rock feel. Through it all, Walker’s vocals are evocative, ranging from folk-ish to grungy, and always providing a potent sense of emotion to the music. The instrumentation is unerringly rich even if mostly reserved, and provides some stunning moments, like the interplay of meandering piano and guitar in “Behind My Eyes” and the shimmering outro to “Colours”.

Stretching to well over an hour in duration, without a lot of obvious hooks, let alone variation, for impatient listeners to grasp onto, it should be reiterated that Perfect Light isn’t for the faint of heart. Instead, this is a mood listen for those ready and willing to be engulfed in a sensation of beautiful melancholy (the album cover does this justice, with its portrayal of a hazy expanse of sand and sea). For its target audience, Perfect Light stands proudly as a (very) early 2022 album of the year contender. Subdued and somber, but also inviting in its way, this is a highly-accomplished work which proves there’s still new ground to till in a musical style which is typically surmised to have seen better days.



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user ratings (123)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2022


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album rules, let the hype train roll!

Pikazilla
January 21st 2022


22983 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The three songs I've heard range from good to outright disappointing. Raise me up is so bad. Gonna listen to the whole thing now.



Nice review! Mental pos : )

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2022


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers Pika! May just be a difference of opinion, as I dig all the songs here to varying degrees (although Raise Me Up is not one of my favorites).

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2022


9561 Comments


Album stream:
http://40wattsunmusic.bandcamp.com/album/perfect-light

Gonna read, listen and comment tomorrow.

Digging: Morgue Supplier - Inevitability

WatchItExplode
January 21st 2022


9644 Comments


You convinced me to try again. I'm sure this is the type of album you have to be in the right mindset to enjoy

Digging: Slomosa - Slomosa

theBoneyKing
January 21st 2022


22132 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can’t wait to hear this

Digging: Ethel Cain - Preacher's Daughter

Dylan620
January 21st 2022


5763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh hell this is out already? Gotta check

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2022


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers all!



@WatchItExplode, yeah, definitely a listen for a particular mood and certainly worth a few tries.



@Boney, expect you'll enjoy this one!

theBoneyKing
January 21st 2022


22132 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yup Dyl, dropped the day after a surprise new Pedro the Lion album too - slowcore fans are winning this week!

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2022


14795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review man! This has definitely been my favorite album of the month/year so far

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2022


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thank you sir! Yep, definitely my favorite as well, but obviously extremely early yet

Koris
Contributing Reviewer
January 21st 2022


14795 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm about to put up a post-rock review as well, so we'll have two in a row for the front page ;] Been a great week for the genre already

DoofDoof
January 21st 2022


11634 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Hype train rollin over here choo choo choo

Digging: Mighty Sparrow - Hot and Sweet

DoofDoof
January 21st 2022


11634 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Raise Me Up and Until are I guess my least favourites here

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2022


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Doof, I like Until, think it adds a little grit that helps diversify the album a bit, but Raise Me Up is one of the weaker ones I'd agree.

Prancer
January 22nd 2022


1383 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

damn, raise me up is one of my favorites here lol

DoofDoof
January 22nd 2022


11634 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

SunnyV - I think both tracks are there to diversify but neither 100% satisfies…but then sometimes it’s those songs that remain intriguing and win you over in the end



I mean I’d still rate both tracks at least a 4 anyway



Until has this one patch that is slightly awkward - a bit like an MTV Unplugged set where a heavy song is translated into ‘intense guitar shop acoustic strum’



Raise Me Up takes the most vocal risks and as often is the case vocals that don’t quite feel right the first few listens end up snagging you later for those imperfections



The Spaces in Between has proven the key tune I think, despite the mixed reaction here upon its release - that and the two opening tracks are perfect, plus Thousand Miles is close to the same magic. The guitar work in Colours is a highlight too.

Prancer
January 22nd 2022


1383 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the chord changes 4 and a half minutes or so into Raise Me Up are what do it for me. and Closure is just beautiful. almost sounds like a Nick Drake song. I think this might be my favorite album from this band.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2022


3798 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

All good thoughts @Doof, agree with most of those points.



@Prancer, yeah, Closure is a perfect closer for this.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2022


47424 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

noice!!



"the essence of Perfect Light does sidestep the most brutally depressing slowcore bent"



aww :[ will check this soonish, but am buried in unpublished drafts rn

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You



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