Paint It Golden

Written by: TL on 13/11/2011 15:05:56

You know, Lydia was supposed to be a dead band by now. Starting with the departure of female vocalist Mindy White following 2008's phenomenal "Illuminate" the band soon sounded their farewell with a goodbye tour and a last album in the form of "Assailants". So why is there a new album out under the Lydia name called "Paint It Golden"? Well, as it turns out, even though Lydia originally dissolved because founding members Leighton Antelman (vocals) and Steve McGraw (guitar) didn't want to make music together anymore, Antelman eventually returned to making music with drummer Craig Taylor, who convinced him that they might as well keep using the Lydia name considering that they had already built a presence using that.

So then, "Paint It Golden" is the first Lydia album to feature the talents of less than six musicians, as Antelman and Taylor have gone at it with only the help of producer Matt Malpass. Still, Lydia still sounds deceptively like Lydia has for the past couple of albums, offering dreamy, sentimental pop-rock that seems the very sonic manifestation of the word tenderness. Antelman's vocals sit naturally at the center of the expression, sounding as graceful and unique as ever, each of his lines pulling at the heart strings in a manner that many other singers certainly would envy. Apart from Taylor's steady drumming, the duo also supports the singing with more of Lydia's trademark, soft, floaty instrumentation, which relies as much (if not even more) on chimes and bells and key-strokes as it does on guitar work, and effectively, the soundscape is still quite reminiscent of other of rock's softest bands like Copeland, Gracer and Band Of Horses.

Now, how much you'll like "Paint It Golden" is probably going to hang on what you expect from it coming in. Compared to "Assailants", it seems a veritable breath of life for the band, as the songs on here mostly all seem willing to stand up and offer some memorable moments to greet your attention upon return listens, while the "Assailants" songs left you feeling like Lydia couldn't really put things together as well as they previously had. While things are better here though, comparing "Paint It Golden" to "Illuminate" shows that they seemingly still can't, as even catchier numbers like "Hailey", "Eat Your Heart Out" and "I'll Bite You" fall short of the brilliance of the best Lydia material. When at their finest, this band simply delivered a feeling of frailty and intimacy that was endlessly endearing, and while this album's lead single, "Dragging Your Feet Through The Mud", comes close, even it seems a little lightweight compared to the delicacy the Lydia name has previously stood for.

Furthermore, while "Paint It Golden" does seem a step up over "Assailants" in terms of focused songwriting, one gets that feeling that Lydia are generally trudging around the exact same soundscape as they have for each of their albums. That may sound like a bit of a contradiction, considering how I just said the new stuff doesn't have the same qualities as the old, but really, this is a case of the differences being small enough to only have a negative impact, as you can hear what's missing, even though a feeling of "heard it before" still sits naggingly in the back of your head. So despite the 'reunion' of the band and the renewed desire to make music, it begs the question if Lydia aren't a bit dead in the water in terms of ideas? One thing is for sure, and that is that if they don't somehow innovate their sound, each album of their's is going to be compared to "Illuminate", and frankly, at this point I don't like the band's chances of ever doing something similar any better than they already did on that record.


Download: Dragging Your Feet Through The Mud, Eat Your Heart Out, I'll Bite You
For The Fans Of: Copeland, Gracer, Mew, The Cinema, Band Of Horses, Bon Iver

Release Date 11.10.2011
Doghouse Records

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