Being one of the best “that album cover looks random – let’s youtube the name” artists I’ve come across, Son Lux returned at the end of the last year quietly with “We Are Rising”. I didn’t even know it was out until a few weeks ago!
Everything has changed, yet nothing has. Son Lux continues to sing in broken spoken word full of electronic affliction, yet underneath the mechanics of the album bring a different instrument set forward. “Flickers” introduces us to the more string dramatica that permeates the album. Over the top of slow percussive beats there’s warbling strings, piano plinks and distorted vocals. It’s eerie, its dreamlike and it’s not easy to immediately grasp. It took a good five or so listens before I thought “this is actually really excellent!” The album as a whole certainly works like that.
“All the Right Things” introduces the brass edge to the album and Son Lux’s penchant for merging the usually un-mergable as what starts off being a depressing track ends up being quite elating with its Ska infused brass swing. It’s such an original sounding track, hats off to him for pulling it off. “Rising” continues the fusion of lots of random instruments over what is a more visceral track that sounds like a real foot stomping crowd pleaser. When it’s not going nuts there’s a piccolo, xylophone and backing vocal bridge. It sounds amazing.
“Leave The Riches” goes for eerie downtrodden beats and bass with minimal everything else unless it is needed. There’s some excellent vocal collages throughout the album and here it really pushes to the fore. “Flowers” is the closest to acoustic the album gets with lots of pianos and bells ebbing and flowing to its ethereal finale where the vocals bleed outwards and provide almost a string like substance to the track while everything else twists around. It’s so understated and pretty yet very original.
“Chase” is a slow-moving track of tension and elongated moments before “Claws” returns to a more usual song structure with some epic vocal effects going on as each stanza gets more and more aggressive and electric. “Let Go” cleverly uses vocal prompts for the melody and beat as the wind instruments and bells have a field day. It’s such an expressive piece of art it’s as brilliant as it is nuts. It builds and builds and you can feel everything rising up inside – fantastic. The closing track “Rebuild” is a warm track of marimba and spacey keyboard synths over lots of clicking and shuffling percussion. It reminds me of how circular his albums are and it’s a wonderful way to close with something euphoric, energetic and slightly uplifting.
I’m so very glad I took the time to listen and appreciate “We Are Rising”. Very little struck a chord with me on the first listen. I found it clever and daring, but it didn’t click. Several listens and weeks later, I still find it clever and daring but now I feel its such a wondrous work of art. It takes time to appreciate, to let all its coils of silk unravel. Now I find myself stunned, intrigued, moved and jilted all at the same time. Utterly unique and fantastic.