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Wednesday, 21 September 2016
LIGHTS THAT CHANGE – BYZANTIUM (Wrong Way Records CD, D/L).
Blending the Indie Pop sparkle of the Sunday’s debut album, the more lyrically coherent ‘Heaven Or Las Vegas’ period Cocteau Twins, the ethereal sheen of the under-rated third Slowdive album Pygmalion and the lush Gothik Pop of This Mortal Coil and Shelleyan Orphan, Welsh trio Lights That Change have lovingly crafted their debut album from the base materials of Shoegaze and Dream Pop. However you can’t help feeling that they have somewhat missed the boat………………..had Byzantium been released 25 years ago it would have been considered a minor classic of the genre, but in 2016 with so many other bands using the same source materials it now sounds somewhat…….err……generic. Conceived as a studio project, Lights That Change first appeared on our radar a few years back with a couple of very cool singles/EPs but since then, while the band have been working hard on this album, the scene has moved on with the “Shoegaze Revival” rapidly running out of steam and the more interesting/creative bands that initially were influenced by the “Holy Trinity” of the J&MC, Slowdive and MBV evolving and experimenting, whereas Lights That Change have either taken their eye off the ball or played it safe and got themselves stylistically stuck in 1991. Then again, if your tastes are not that demanding and you are simply looking for a record that evokes the sound of late 80s/early 90s Rough Trade/4AD releases then Byzantium is the perfect album…………………..it is a beautifully constructed facsimile of that era, full of familiar somnolent sounds gently oozing out of the speakers.
We were expecting this album to drop a couple of years ago but due to various delays it has arrived late to the party and with loads of other Shoegaze/Dream Pop bands releasing records in the meantime, it’s impact has been rather diminished. Nevertheless, although a bit light on any real memorable tunes or infectious Indie Pop hooks, Lights That Change first full album is a more than competent collection of dark gothic tinged Dream Pop songs that mixes together layers gorgeous multi-tracked voices, swirling guitars and supple bass lines…………………….tracks like the folky ‘Starlight’, a previous single ‘Voices’ and ‘Union (For Louise)’ which has the vivacity of The Sundays are particularly good……and what they lack in originality is balanced by the amount of work spent on achieving such a full, crystalline sound. However, Lights That Change have not really stamped their own personality on the record and have made an album that can only be described as “Cocteau’s Lite”, being in thrall to Robin Guthrie and far too respectful to their influences……………we were there during the original wave of Shoegazers and don’t really want to hear Bluebell Knoll recreated but would rather the band fuck with the source material to be far more sonically adventurous, many of the tracks really could do bursts of brain scrambling shards of noise just to jolt the listener out of their reverie for a moment. If you are looking for an album packed with the thrilling visceral, brooding power of the last Swans LP, this is not the record for you……….although if you are after something that is atmospheric, sounds fantastic and rekindles memories of loads of dreamy bands you liked back in the day, you are not going to go far wrong with the latest offering from Lights That Change…………other opinions are available.
Released by Wrong Way Records, Byzantium is out NOW and available from the Lights That Change Bandcamp site here https://lightsthatchange.bandcamp.com/album/byzantium as either a CD or digital download. You can also stream the album and come to your own conclusions about a record that may have missed the wave.