Son Lux the horror album.
The third and final album in the ‘Tomorrows’ trilogy, Son Lux have thankfully saved the best until last. As the electronic trio continue to mix chaos and downtempo together to make weird and wonderful results, they lean into the creepy vibe to great effect. It is just a mild shame, the whole collection could have been two superb albums rather than three good ones.
The beauty of this album lays in the way how Ryan Lott uses his synths and string arrangements to create a seeping dread. In the opening track ‘Unbind’, the blasting string arrangement slowly veers out of tune. Then it starts collapsing in on itself. ‘Come Recover’ uses vocoders and Ian Chang’s chaotic drums matched to reverse synths expertly. One side soothes, the other is like a heartbeat exploding viscerally. Elsewhere Akira Yamaoka’s washed-out synths from Silent Hill feel like the inspiration for ‘Sever’. Halland Andrews’ vocals suit the brooding industrial synths to perfection. Sultry and haunting at the same time – feeling disconnected from the horror music, she makes it far creepier.
Elsewhere traditional Son Lux downtempo vibes sweep through with ‘Vacancy’ and ‘Plans We Make’. Both feature excellent guest vocalists in Kiah Victoria and Kadhja Bonet respectively but neither quite hit the catchy highs of some of their best work. That is saved for the standout smash in waiting ‘A Different Kind of Love’. It is this kind of track that really exemplifies exactly what Son Lux does so well. The backing vocals and strings cry out in dramatic pain over grandstanding drums and Rafiq Bhatia’s bass. It is full of emotion and drama from beginning to end and it is great to hear that Son Lux can pound these tracks out.
What is interesting though is that three tracks are extended interludes or outros, again pushing something just over an EP into LP status. This is something that the Tomorrows series has done each time. A few of these switches are near seamless which makes me think, why is this not just a double album rather than a trilogy? The earlier two releases had much more of this soundscape (read potential padding). Thankfully this final release is the first to feel like a true album. Hopefully this signals a return to form.
Son Lux have always been at the cutting edge of experimental electronica being squashed into a pop-ish format. That will always mean some records land better with different audiences than others. This has been the best Son Lux record for me personally since ‘Brighter Wounds’.
Recommended track: A Different Kind of Love
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