Ryan Lott’s fifth Son Lux album ‘Brighter Wounds’ is the first one not to leave the listener dazzled, but it’s still a solid and rewarding effort.
In terms of modern electronica, Ryan Lott and co. have one the strongest discographies going under the Son Lux name. The intricate musical arrangements and vast array of interwoven melodic passages on all four previous Son Lux albums leaves the listener positively stunned and dumbfounded by Lott’s conjurations. One artistic comparison, when it comes to emitting similar kinds of emotions, is Dirty Projectors (their self-titled album released last year is worth checking out). Son Lux’s previous offering Bones was an exemplar of what Lott can do when working at maximum capacity. The exquisite production and the expansive, carefree framework on Bones left a lot to be desired for the new arrival Brighter Wounds.
After listening to Brighter Wounds all the way through, the listener is left rather satisfied. That, unbelievably, is the problem – just satisfied. After a Son Lux album, one should be asking “What on earth did I just listen to?” in a perplexed manner. On the contrary, Brighter Wounds does not quite achieve the same levels of panache or succeed in fully challenging the listener’s perception of what is musically possible. But make no mistake, there is still a great deal of substance worth discussing. Lott’s dazzling vocals open the album on ‘Forty Screams’ in a yearning fashion, like he’s unsure of what future lies ahead as depicted using bucolic imagery (“Will it grow, will it burst, when the flowers bloom / Or can it rise from such a seed”). The clear meaning of this song and who Lott is talking about specifically when he sings “I wanted to a better world for you” could potentially be open to personal interpretation.
The song ‘Dream State’ is a Son Lux paradigm that talks about a possible phase in a relationship when the love between a couple becomes stale and questionable. Judging by “How do we feel in that photograph / And how do we feel it again?”, Lott wants to experience the exhilaration or thrill of being in a new relationship and the “dream state” is the given name of such a feeling. The unifying vocal performances and the sudden shifts in dynamics only adds to song’s quality. ‘Slowly’ explores relationships further as Lott talks about trust. “Slowly lie to me like you do when you tell the truth” is the wittiest line featured on the entire album. This use of irony makes the lies and truths of the other person, with whom we assume Lott is in love, look indistinguishable, as though Lott has nihilistically given up in trying to identify which is which.
Sadly, the second half of the album falls slightly short of the mark. There is simply a lack of attention-grabbing material, even when the track ‘All Directions’ tries its hardest to keep the flow of the album undistorted with some appealing instrumentation. The two most humdrum tracks are ‘Aquatic’ and ‘Surrounded’ that are meagre fillers because the music has no clear direction, which, for Son Lux, is unacceptable. Luckily, ‘Resurrection’ boldly finishes off Brighter Wounds with a grand choir-like finale as Lott shouts “From the other side!”.
This is Son Lux’s first album to exhibit such obvious flaws, and it leaves a sour and unfortunate aftertaste for the listener. But regardless of the negatives, Son Lux maintain their place in modern music with some clever lyricism and several accomplishing moments. It is inarguable that Brighter Wounds is a good Son Lux album but not a great one and has, with limited avail, earned a place in their LP catalogue. (6/10) (Harry Beynon)
Listen to Brighter Wounds by Son Lux here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!
Tags: album, Brighter Wounds, City Slang, Harry Beynon, review, Ryan Lott, Son Lux
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