Helen Payne reviews the latest “post-rock/ trip-hop” record from New York singer/ producer Ryan Lott alias. Son Lux (pictured middle) on Glassnote Records, tentatively titled Bones.
“like an electropop haunted house”
Glassnote, 22 June 2015
[dropcap size=small]A[/dropcap]fter a succession of albums, EPs and singles in various band member formations, Bones is the latest EP by Son Lux, and it’s ambitious. Frontman Ryan Lott is no stranger to hard work though, also being a member of Sisyphus and having scored music for two films.
Bones opens with the 50 second long ‘Breathe In’, telling the listener in croaky and strained vocals (an attempt to show the rawness of bronchitis) to “close your eyes, swallow the sun, you have only just begun”. Great. My eyes are shut, I’ve inhaled. What’s next?
‘Change is Everything’ was the first single released for the album, and arguably the catchiest. A choir is sampled and shuffled around beneath Lott’s gravelly voice and fairy tale like synths. In the subsequent (and borderline schizophrenic) ‘Flight’ Lott cries “Let’s be anyone but you and me” and poses the question “are we fixed or free?” The album takes a deep turn, the first of many unexpected twists.
Described to me as haunted house electropop, the second single ‘You Don’t Know Me’ is exactly that. Varying pitched vocal layers mirror the synths, add in some resonating snares, a string section, a bassline that is sure to stick in your head for days, and you’ve got yourself a song for your Halloween playlist.
‘This Time’ is almost anthemic: soaring vocals and tribe-like drumming met in the middle with a crazy guitar solo. A very experimental track that goes in every direction possible. Requires multiple listens. The album thankfully calms down a bit for ‘I Am The Others’ (yet still sounding awfully haunted-house-esque), and ‘Your Day Will Come’, a half way point on the album as Ryan Lott repeats the lyrics from the opening track again. We’ve witnessed a bronchitis-vibe introduction to crazy experimental electropop and back again. But it’s not over yet, as yet again Son Lux surprise us with a faster paced, pretty track ‘Undone’. This is my favourite song on the album, simultaneously being chilled and incredibly intricate, which is a hard balance to achieve.
We then get yet another contrast with choral vocals and a timid string section on ‘White Lies’, until met with a massive juxtaposition at the 4 minute mark to acid house beats for the rest of the song. Somehow it just works. This album never fails to surprise me, but I love it. It ends with the delicate and tentative ‘Breathe Out’ and naturally we’ve come full circle in this whole respiration thing.
The band are playing across Europe in August and October, including Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons on 20-23rd August, if you want to catch them. I would.