Light Pollution – Apparitions (Carpark) 26/07/2010

July 31, 2010 by  

Throughout the 2000s, shoegaze had seen something of a resurrection in the US, especially with the likes of Deerhunter, School of Seven Bells and A Sunny Day in Glasgow leading the way for renovating the epic, reverb-drenched soundscapes that was established in the UK during the late 80s. It’s great to see what was once a very underground movement become more frequent in the current indie-rock scene, although this now puts more demand for newer bands to come up with fresher and even more exceptional material instead of simply just trying to imitate what has been done previously. Chicago’s Light Pollution is such a band who finds themselves in this situation.

Vocalist and songwriter James Michael Cicero had written Apparitions over the course of a long winter whilst staying alone inside a huge warehouse in Dekalb, Illinois, therefore cutting himself off from any distractions of the outside world. With this isolated approach to making an album, I was hoping for an elaborate record that would focus on trying to push the boundaries rather than imitating past shoegaze glories.

It certainly starts off promisingly enough; “Good Feelings” contains a satisfying mixture of sweeping arpeggios, sing-a-long choruses and spacious guitar crescendos, where it feels as if the music is being performed in that very same warehouse where Cicero was based. “Oh, Ivory!” includes uplifting piano and airy string arrangements resulting in some stylish chamber pop; while “Drunk Kids” glides through hypnotic multi-layered vocal arrangements mixed with a large array of swirling synths that augments the song’s euphoric atmosphere. “Fever Dreams” combines reverb-drenched vocals with glossy new wave synths that maintain the insular mood throughout the song until the end of the chorus, where the gentle sound just bursts into crashing fuzz guitars that drive forward exuberantly. This slick change of direction doesn’t last however, as just when you think it’s going to build into some big wall of noise; it quickly cuts back to the verse again.

Unfortunately, when they try to break the album down with some slower, more ethereal material, it becomes more of a drag than an opportunity to display ambition. “Ssslow Dreamsss” and “Decyi, Right On” both trudge along tediously for far longer than necessary (around the 7 minute mark) which ends up ruining the overall energy of the album. Cicero’s vocals aren’t strong enough to portray any lasting emotion here, as they sound almost intimidated by the wall of noise surrounding them.

When listening to Apparitions, it is clear that Light Pollution are talented at what they do, but you just feel this formula has been done much better in the past and doesn’t reward the listener as much as it could have. As this is only their debut album, it will hopefully be a starting point for the band to try and expand their horizons and furthermore develop their sound for future material.

[rating:3]


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