Written by: TL on 04/04/2013 21:46:04

Lydia's "Illuminate" was a thick slice of the stuff dreams are made of - if you haven't heard it, you should go back and do so right now - so when more than half the band departed it was the kind of disappointment that ardent music fans see only too many of, following the shaky beginnings of promising young bands. After a while however, lead-singer Leighton Antelman and drummer Craig Taylor decided to carry on with the name, producing "Paint It Golden", and although it never made as strong an impression as "Illuminate", it was a strong enough record to give the band a post-breakup foothold, paving the way for this year's new effort "Devil".

Sadly yet predictably however, "Devil" is another step away from "Illuminate": Lydia's crowning album cast them as heavy-hearted dreamers, wandering through tinkling mists of dramatic pathos, yet happily for Antelman and Taylor, things seem to have only gotten better for them since them, to the point where "Devil", while retaining the band's "dreamy" and "floaty" characteristics - in part because of Antelman's unmistakeably tender vocalwork - is the first Lydia album that demands to be called flat out light-hearted. It's not that the band is without worries or stories, after all there would probably be no album then, it's just that "Devil" - which for once does not feature work from the band's regular producer Matt Malpass - finds Lydia with the sort of cool, calm, distanced attitude to their subject matter that you'd expect to find with, well, a pop band.

Urgency and melancholia has been turned down then, in favour of a sound that's more friendly and digestable. And while it should make the album more accessible, and while the production job is still good even without Malpass, the simple truth is that it doesn't move the listener as Lydia once did. Looking at things separately, I like the confident chorus riff of "Knee Deep", and how it flirts with the "ohh-ohh" choirs and butterfly-wing-ish guitars at the back of the soundscape, but overall the song, symptomatically for the album, is just a tad too relaxed for my taste. It helps when the title-track ups the tempo ever so slightly, making it feel like once again, there's something at stake for Lydia, and when "Take Your Time" eventually introduces a gritty, muted riff to the soundscape, those are the moments I feel most interested in getting deep with "Devil".

It's not quite enough though, to completely salvage the impression that, more than float around me, immersing me in its enchantment, "Devil" rather just floats past me in a way that's comfortable, enjoyable and tasteful. It's the kind of record that, although it has a recognisable sound and you'd have a hard time finding something bad to say about it, it doesn't really stir you, and for that it ends up a bit forgetable. So for the moment, I'm afraid fans have to accept that Lydia are merely good when once they were great, and that's the way I think it's going to stay, unless they at least start taking some bolder chances on future material.


Download: Devil, Take Your Time, Knee Deep
For The Fans Of: The Cinema, Copeland, Dashboard Confessional,

Release Date 19.03.2013

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