Sister Species are a Jekyll and Hyde. Their new album ‘Light Exchanges’ effortlessly switches from genre to genre, topic to topic and thought to thought with ease. You can loosely call it chamber pop but there’s a whole lot more going on.
The album initially sounds like it’s going to be a rock album that has some wonderfully bleak lyrics. The catchy upbeat choruses of ‘Heat Death (Hole Me In)’ and ‘Light Exchanges’ are victorious and celebratory. The guitars and bass are bold and happy with a vocal delivery that evokes the best of 90’s Brit Pop. The key difference is that Sister Species brings along a three-part trumpet section for the ride. This means that brass underscores the entire album. This works especially well for pre-choruses like in ‘Start With the Mess’ to build up drama. It also works well in most of the songs’ choruses as they fuse the guitars and trumpets together to create a noisy rush of sound for the big moments.
It is a shame then that of the ten tracks, four are quick thirty-second trumpet interludes. They are palette cleansers between the rockier tracks which works well enough but they feel more like outros than standalone pieces. I think the reason it bugs me is that the album is over in 25 minutes and it has a definite a-side ‘rock’ / b-side ‘ballad’ delivery. The album slows and slows down and it doesn’t really let the music shine. The ballad selection has some gorgeous moments throughout, in particular, the closing track ‘Cottonwood Trees’, which feels cathartically meditative. The trumpets are mere wisps over the heavy keyboards and floaty vocals.
‘Light Exchanges’ is a great EP being branded as an album. There are some fantastic tracks here but it feels a bit disingenuous to have trumpet interludes take up 40% of the track listings. Thankfully, everything else shows that Sister Species can create some superb chamber pop anthems that you’ll still want on repeat regardless.
Recommended track: Light Exchanges
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