Written by: TL on 13/01/2009 00:15:35

This was supposed to be like my holiday you know? By finishing all promos and pending reviews on my list before New Year’s, I was supposed to have plenty of time between releases here in the new year. What happens? I'm surrounded by "End of 2008" lists from magazines, online and mundane, all speaking volumes of fantastic albums that I missed throughout the past year, and what choice do I have, than to spend my newfound spare time playing catch up with the best releases from last year? Loving music makes me emo.

Anyway, one of the band's I found at the top of some list, listened to and had my interest drawn to, is Lydia, whose sophomore album "Illuminate" topped some list I found at an unspecified but yet quite credible location. I can see why. It is an album that most hard rockers and heavy metallers will probably qualify as "women's music", but if subtle music doesn't necessarily bore you, then Lydia could be a boon upon your ears. Fans of Gracer will find solace in the graceful, dreamy soundscapes, as they get mesmerized by the vocal interplay between lead singer Leighton Antelman and Mindy White, who also plays the keyboard, on the opener "This Is Twice Now". Soon, the two first tracks will have woven a romantic micro-cosmos around the listener, disconnecting him or her from the coldness of the real world, and just as the blissful sounds are about to have one completely but comfortably numb, "I Woke Up Near The Seas" bursts into a soaring chorus that Band Of Horses would applaud even during the best of their moments. Then the small accelerations of "Hospital" bring my mind to the audio-poetry of Pierce The Veil, though Lydia are of course still endlessly softer than that band. "Fate"'s echoing guitars hint faintly towards Circa Survive, while its graceful use of cymbals is like taken directly from Mew's "Comforting Sounds", and in fact, fans of the Danish band may think of Lydia's "Illuminate" as one long exploration of that song's sound.

While the first half of the album has seemed like spending the night under a starlit sky in the country, "Sleep Well" and "Stay Awake" carries promise of a coming sunrise, with slight playful The Thrills-esque guitars here and there and the chorus of the latter being crooned like Band Of Horses again. It's not as much the chorus that holds your memory hostage, as it is the instantly captivating sensibility of Leighton's "but San Francisco sounds quite lovely" - Or how about the frailty and naivety of "All I See"'s refrain: "All I see.. It scares me". If angels had a choir, I think this song would be their encore, as it is like the gospel of feelings that are too frail and tender to exist in real life. By the time you get through that and into "One More Day", you're either stabbing yourself in the ears over the infinite softness of Lydia, or your heart is ready to bleed and burst with Leighton's "Don't you say that I've gone crazy, 'cause I haven't gone crazy yet, yet.. I just lost my mind, but I still got you", and when Mindy ends the album with her "and now the one you once loved is leaving", it's like waking up from a dream you would've preferred to stay in.

The fact that Lydia has managed to compose a full albums worth of songs that are so soft it's hard for a rocker's ears to comprehend and still not sound corny, formulaic or even monotonous is flat out unbelievable. There are so many ways this could have ended up sounding fake or pretentious, but instead, the instruments, two guitars, bass, drums, keyboard and two vocals, they all melt together seamlessly, complimenting each other so perfectly that nothing ever stands out on the account of something else. Much like UnderOATH's, granted somewhat different, "Lost In The Sound Of Separation", this is an album where the sound of it is just so well done that listening to it makes you forget completely about the fact that it is divided into songs and sections, rather you just flow through it from start to finish. It's a marvelous release, and while the grace of it will probably prevent it from penetrating too deeply into the levels of your long time awareness, it is a dream to have on, and if Lydia manage to stretch their sound even further on their next album, there's just no telling how special that could end up being.

Download: I Woke Up Near The Seas, All I See, One More Day, Stay Awake,
For The Fans Of: Gracer, Band Of Horses, Death Cab For Cutie, Mew

Release Date 21.10.2008
Motown Records

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