Release Date: Feb 9, 2018
Record label: City Slang
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock
Their debut for the City Slang label, Brighter Wounds is fifth album overall for Son Lux, formerly the solo project of ghostly voiced pianist, composer, and timbre manipulator Ryan Lott. By the time they wrote and recorded 2015's Bones, Son Lux had expanded into a collaborative trio with guitarist/composer Rafiq Bhatia and drummer Ian Chang, both fellow sound manipulators. Unlike Bones, an audacious production with universal themes, Brighter Wounds was heavily influenced by personal loss and the birth of Lott's first child, in addition to the 2016 presidential election.
A mix of sadness and dread looms large over Son Lux's Brighter Wounds. As composer and singer Ryan Lott began constructing the album, he welcomed a child into the world, lost a close friend to cancer, and saw our planet increasingly engulfed in political turmoil, three events that factor heavily into both the album's sound and lyrics. The music is dense and frequently claustrophobic, as if to mirror Lott's cluttered and tumultuous state of mind.
'All Directions', the sixth track on Son Lux's latest album, Brighter Wounds, is essentially a microcosm of the record as a whole. A blurring of avant-garde percussion with more straightforward balladry, it's a song that - as its name suggests - is being pulled in all directions. At times it works, as seen during the track's opening, where the off kilter percussion seamlessly morphs into a mournful piano-led piece with pitch-shifted vocals.
"Is this what resurrection feels like?", Son Lux's Ryan Lott asks in his distinctly world weary voice on Brighter Wounds' closing track. Lott and his bandmates Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang made their mark as a necromancers of sound themselves, turning earthly and organic sonics into sweeping, widescreen digital productions. Records like Lanterns and Bones are bold musical depictions of alternate worlds.
The otherworldly Son Lux have a new album out. Let's start with track three: Labor. Soft, sensual, serene; the fluid waver of Ryan Lott's curious vibrato vocal matches perfectly the jittery jazz-funk guitar that itself evokes the movement of rivulets of water. With noble strings and warm, resonant piano, it's a mature and tender piece.
Since the release of their 2008 debut album, Son Lux have proved to be a mercurial band that are capable of straddling the thin line between pop and alternative rock. Even beyond this, they have incorporated elements of other musical forms such as alternative hip-hop and even more avant-garde musical styles. On 'Brighter Wounds,' this experimentation is both a gift and curse, as some moments of brilliance are let down by less well-executed ideas.