North Carolinian neo-prog novices seek proper darkness to prosper in.
This Asheville foursome see their debut album’s title, emerging from its opening word, as “a metaphor for being in the perfect environment for growth yet constrained by living in a shadow” – but the same description would fit “Lilac” as a whole. With shoegaze sonics firmly affixed to progressive rock passages and trip-hop grooves mixed with acoustic beats, the ensemble enshroud their songs in an easily penetrable gloom in which tunes will not bloom on the initial spin of the platter only to flesh out its miracles in the listener’s psyche in gradual fashion. The result of such an approach is an immersive experience that’s difficult to grasp and easy to surrender to and enjoy the inherent anxiety of the Devil’s dozen pieces on display.
The vistas it offers spring forth on the tidal wave of “Landing” whose pulsing dynamics engulf the aural space where the stereo-fathoming funky licks caress Brittany LeAnn’s gentle voice, as the Maurus brothers – guitarists Evan and Zachary and drummer Ian – sculpt an ever-shifting soundscape for the folk-informed melody to float across, before “Meridian” scatters electronica over strum to send sultry, echoing vocals towards stratosphere without severing the song’s tether to the ground. However, the punchy “Do Something” plucks purely pop rifferama out of the ether to send the twangy, bass-laden waves into the spectral “Waves Of Rosetta” and further on, and though “Breathe” flutters in the rarefied air of tentative freedom as outlined by sparse instrumentation, “Blurred Lines” unhurriedly fills the room with vaudevillian singing and thunderous rhythm, and “One Thing” soars to the alt-lined clouds. And then there’s the electric blizzard of “Twin” – arresting and anthemically invigorating – while the pun-peddling “Mellow-D” is spreading jazzy, sax-spiced vibe to simultaneously entrance and enchant the audience until “Green-Yellow Lights” makes a scintillating entrance and bring on the wordless, soothing finale.
So yes, here’s a proper environment not only for dwelling in the shade but also for coming into the light.