jump to navigation

Au – Both Lights March 30, 2012

Posted by gwyoung in Album Reviews, Music.
Tags: , ,

Artist: Au

Album: Both Lights

Release: Hometapes, 2012

Genre: Experimental

RIYD: Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Colin Stetson

Portland-based multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland’s music often draws comparisons to contemporary psych-folk acts like Grizzly Bear and early Animal Collective, and so a lot of knock-off criticism faults him for not being as original as those bands he emulates. Ever since his mesmerizing debut in 2005, however, he has shown a consistent knack for crafting emotionally-affecting songs out of unexpected, left-field composition and arrangements that shine regardless of any similarities to other musicians.

Wyland’s career began under his solo moniker, luc, with the album peaofthesea, a charming record of hushed outsider folk. Luke’s solo music was pretty and unassuming, consisting of bits and pieces of instrumental guitar strumming and his expressive Antony & The Johnsons- or Dirty Projectors-type falsetto vocals. This sound was greatly enriched once he found himself some collaborators, and as such his work fronting the ever-changing collaborative project Au’s provides for a much fuller and more textured experience. Au’s output thus far consists of a self-titled debut, the playful psychedelic romp of Verbs, and an EP featuring the latest lineup (Luke and Dana Valatka) re-working some of the best tracks from the earlier albums. Though each Au release has its moments, nothing has really compared to peaofthesea in terms of originality and consistency.

Enter Both Lights. This new album finds Luke & Dana really coming into their own with the Au project, honing in on the uniqueness of their sound to create a masterpiece that celebrates what separates Au from its contemporaries instead of their common ground. Though both musicians share Au’s affinity for swelling dynamics and vocal harmonies, Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear would never make an equivalent of Both Lights. Throwing equal parts world music and jazz into the mix while featuring rapid, minimalist acid-saxophone from Colin Stetson, sparkling orchestral and electronic arrangements, and lush layering of Wyland’s falsetto over Dana’s backing melodies, the album alternates seamlessly between gorgeous instrumentals and rollicking, stomping, soaring anthems celebrating life and love. It just takes one listen to single “Get Alive” to get hooked on Au, and I’m happy to say that the rest of the album surpasses all expectations and finally delivers on the promise that Luke’s various projects have been merely hinting at for the past six years.



No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: