It is made clear from the offset that things have changed. The first track on Light We Made, ‘Midnight Zone’ opens with a fluctuating synth line, gently punctuated with guitar and drum hits until they break through into a sparkly, downtempo sound that leans more towards shoe-gaze than the rough, heavier style of earlier Balance And Composure. Jon Simmons’ usual grated shouts are replaced with high, dreamy vocals and there is a far more melodic focus. The shift in musical style is entwined with the lyrical theme of the album – that of change, growth and acceptance, particularly in regards to love and music.
‘Spinning’ and ‘Afterparty’ feel a little more like classic B&C, albeit their most mellow songs. The live instruments are subdued but more central, and Simmons’ vocals drop to his dragging, melancholic style, albeit with an added melodic buoyancy.
‘For A Walk’ tries something very different – its sexy, grungy electronic style starts off well and it has the potential to be really cool song, but it gets a little lost. The tension created by the muffled shouting is unfortunately dissipated when, instead of building, it’s pushed almost out of earshot by the synth. ‘Mediocre Love’ also falls a little short, bringing back the favoured sparkly guitar and soft, melodic vocals but failing to do anything very exciting with it.
It’s in the album’s single, ‘Postcard’, that the band really nails a confident and interesting new style. The recurring guitar riffs and vocal hooks create a moody, immersive vibe while the programmed drums give you something to grip and keep the song from feeling whiny or slow.
There is a lot less experimentation in the latter half of the album, and the sound lapses into a kind of subdued old B&C style. This can be forgiven and understood, however, when you think about where the band is right now. The group has just returned from a lengthy break and, having been away from music for a while, are unsure of where they stand with it.
It’s clear from this album that they want change, but it’s also clear that they’re not completely sure of how they want to change, and they’re worried about what fans might want. This album is a cautious, intriguing probe into something new. As with all experiments, there are hits and misses, breakthroughs and dead ends – but this new direction has a lot of potential. I look forward to watching the band refine and settle into their new dreamy, downbeat sound. Despite its downfalls, the album is currently my favourite playlist for angsty romantic daydreams.
Written for and published by http://www.headfirst4music.com/