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Album Review: Son Lux – Lanterns

Son Lux Lanterns

Artist: Son Lux

Album: Lanterns

Tracks: 09

Release Date: 29.10.13

Label: Joyful Noise Recordings

Ryan Lott, also known as Son Lux, has recently released his latest full-length album Lanterns on Joyful Noise Recordings. If you haven’t heard of him before, Son Lux, who has released his previous material predominantly through Anticon (which is home to artists such as WHY? produces music which is quite experimental and Lanterns is no different.

The beginning of the album opens with the track Alternate World which comes across as a little mysterious. It feels that this opening track really sets the mood for the rest of the songs on the album. Alternate World seems to be Son Lux expressing some kind of desire to be in not just another place, but another world, literally singing “Take me to an alternate world”. As well as the lyrics that are sung, Son Lux has also accompanied them with a relaxed set of sounds. The  synthesisers and a steady rhythm create a very humble feeling for the listener, one which makes it easy to slip into a session of deep thinking, but with the vibe of this song, it would probably encourage dwelling on negative thoughts, rather than embracing positive alternatives.

However,  this changes when Alternate World is followed by Lost It To Trying, which has a lot more energy right from the start of the track until the end. Lost It To Trying is where you can hear Son Lux’s understanding of classical music, with a multitude of sounds being in the mix. It sounds a little like an orchestra made of synthesiser and bass parts, with modern rock and pop elements mixed into the track which I personally think sounds a little like the Klaxons (which isn’t a bad thing). The drums are really bright and crisp which keep the balance between the complex synthesiser sounds getting increasingly frantic and the vocal parts saying “We lost it to trying” coming in and out of the mix. This is an exciting track because, much like an orchestral piece of music, the sounds are added to the mix one by one, until they all reach a large crescendo, which leaves the listener’s emotions running high.

One of the few times I could actually hear the word lanterns was in the track Ransom. With lyrics like “Lanterns illumine burning the memory, rise innocent” being repeated regularly over an eerie synthesiser sound and an increasingly tense violin part, Ransom is quite an uneasy song to listen to. It’s the first part of the album that feels simply dark and gritty, becoming increasingly tense before suddenly going quiet. That silence then allows room for a haunting piano part to enter the track, which heralds a more sinister tone to the sounds being played from that point.

Though there are songs like Easy which feel much more casual and easy to listen to. However, even within Easy Son Lux is still singing lines like “pull out your heart to make the being alone easy”, which aren’t the most positive set of lyrics around. In contrast to a lot of other songs on the album, Easy is very minimal when compared to the complexity of some of the songs that precede it, such as Lost It To Trying, which adds a lot of variety and makes the listener less likely to lose attention.

Son Lux artworkThe last two songs on Lanterns are Plan the Escape and Lanterns Lit. Plan the Escape seems to be the part in the album when the listener is to let go of whatever concept has been held throughout the album. It’s a relatively positive message within the context of the rest of the album, with lines like “leave the wasting world behind us, we will make it out alive” being sung. Plan the Escape feels like it’s been titled well as it induces feelings of moving on from the negativity that the listener has experienced throughout the rest of the tracks, some of which were very dark sounding as previously mentioned.

This is then followed by Lanterns Lit which is almost a song of success. Listening to Lanterns Lit feels as though we’ve reached a place of closure within the album. It’s hard to describe, but with choir parts providing the backdrop to Son Lux singing “I keep my lanterns lit” it feels as though we’ve ended our journey, for better or for worse.

Lanterns is quite a strange album to listen to, it’s more of an experimental journey rather than a collection of individual songs, which is why I’d recommend listening to the album from start to finish. Whilst there are definitely great moments within this album, sometimes it is quite hard to follow in terms of understanding what the theme is throughout it. Aside from the somewhat disjointed journey that the listener is taken on by listening to Lanterns,  the production of the sounds is well done and it’s nice to hear a mix of electronic music with classical elements, using not only different sounds to create something that is out of the ordinary, but also makes a good use of dynamic range. Lanterns is definitely quite an emotional album and Son Lux’s vocals reflect that throughout the entire runtime. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Son Lux and hopefully his material will be a little easier to follow in the future.

You can find out more about Son Lux by visiting his:

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