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Peaking Lights - Lucifer

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Artist: Peaking Lights

Album: Lucifer

Label: Mexican Summer

Review date: Jun. 18, 2012

With Peaking Light’s sophomore album, last year’s 936, the duo of Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis managed to create a unique blueprint while simultaneously courting the zeitgeist, creating a minor sensation. Working with broken-down electronics, simple drum machines and lots of reverb, they crafted a seemingly perfect blend of dub and good cheer. Naturally, that’s the sort of feat that becomes a veritable totem for the hard-act-to-follow club, which is where we find Coyes and Dunis with their new LP, Lucifer.

At first, Lucifer feels short on melody, but that impression wears off as the songs get a chance to sink in their hooks. Dunis’s vocals cover the same ground throughout; buried in reverb, her chants often feels like the main course, yet they aren’t really where the magic happens. The synths pick up the slack — they’re full of melodic bits that stay with you, from the rubbery descending tones of “Live Love” to the wonderfully spacey synths of “LO HI.” In Lucifer’s narcotic haze, there’s not really a center. The gadgets all play equal parts, resulting in an intoxicating auditory alchemy.

Somehow, Peaking Lights manage to give Luciifer both a brighter, sunnier sheen while also going deeper into dub than 936. “Cosmic Tides” rides an organ, sparkling synths and heavy delays into a Jamaican sunset, and “Midnight (In the Valley of Shadows)” chugs along with thick bass, buoying chika-chika guitars and some brilliant keyboards as Dunis incants amidst the teetering instruments. Amidst the smoke-shrouded proceedings, as synths wash here and there, vocals repeat into the distance and the drum machines canter along. Head-nodding is almost inevitable.

Coming after 936, Lucifer demonstrates that Peaking Lights are well aware of the balancing act required by a follow-up. They’re not breaking significant new ground here, but neither are they standing still. Some will no doubt argue that this is more of the same, but careful listening reveals a subtle evolution at work. And in any case, when the results are this deep and enjoyable, there’s no need to ask for more.

By Mason Jones

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