Peaking Lights have perked up since the shoegazing of 2011’s greyscale drone ‘936’. Through subsequent lo-fi dub inflections (‘Lucifer’) and rudimentary pop (‘Cosmic Logic’), they now take a vaporous swim in an infinity pool leaving a slo-mo neon trail. ‘The Fifth State Of Consciousness’ covers new romanticism and keeps on the coattails of today’s synth pop with dayglo indie standards.
The vocals of Indra Dunis, a floating head swap of Lana Del Rey and Spalding Rockwell, bring a certain vixen level of temptation appearing in TV static. For Aaron Coyes’ Casio-lead meditation bringing tropical elements, both of twinkling waters on pixel beaches and bone-dry tundra, walls of sound are pierced by tinny presets. The longer they go on, Peaking Lights’ paradise becomes a slow release of quicksand suffocating the ‘80s motifs and kitsch semantics, suckering you in with easy listening propositions before turning the tides.
The disengagement between singer and keyboardist (as wife and husband, as well) makes them sound achingly image conscious, a set of sunglasses saying everything and nothing. The jangly (‘Everytime I See The Light’), wistful (‘A Phoenix and A Fish’), and dubbed out (‘Eclipse Of The Heart’ catching itself in a high noon mirage) make for a surprisingly uncomplicated manifesto: become the fog, exhale, and repeat, in their own time, in their own headspace. ‘Put Down Your Guns’ is the right message, although perhaps too flowered up for part-time pacifists.
Showing stamina is nothing new for Peaking Lights, but this is a very long album akin to a sauna stay that becomes too hot, the powers of bringing you under their spell becoming non-beneficial. Musically the humidity rarely lets in any fresh air — certain tracks could do with their loops being curtailed, seemingly not knowing when to stop (‘Sweetness Isn’t Far Away’) — and lack of vocal variety (again, historically straight-laced) prompts the knock-on of making matters fuzzy and forgettable. The dirges are ditched, yet the previous elements they made their name with are overdone.
Words: Matt Oliver
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