Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Review - Suit of Lights - Bacteria

Another review from last year... great nuvo-Brit-PopRock-hyphen-music-stuff

My eyes bulged when they read the info sheet on a band called “Suit of Lights” an noticed the name of “Trevor Dunn”, the bassist for Mr. Bungle, a bizarre band of yesteryear that has inspired some of my favorite bands of today. If Mr. Dunn was involved in this “Suit of Lights” band then they must be trippy weird, or at least an interesting diversion from the grey clouds of life.

Fortunately I was not let down though I was dead wrong about the “weird” bit. The songs on Bacteria, the second album by Suit of Lights, reach back into the past while bounding ahead into the future. The opening track, “Judgment Day”, includes giant slabs of 80s power-prog-pop (Asia and Yes during that period) while tempering things with quiet moments to amazing dramatic effect including a moving instrumental bridge that could have been included on Alice Coopers Welcome To My Nightmare album. “Colors of Hell” sports a British vibe with lush strings and a lopsided yet endearing keyboard melody played in 7/4 time. A sinister edge pervades “All In Good Time”, again evoking mid-70s Alice Cooper, but this is soon evaporated in the face of “Modern Miracle,” a poppy, peppy, breezy song full of snappy drums, muted trumpets, bouncy bass and wistful background vocals that evoke the carefree sound of The Turtles covering “Penny Lane.” If this song doesn’t slap a silly grin on your face and a butterfly in your heart, well, you’re more of a crusty curmudgeon than I and that’s saying a lot.

“Dark Matter Halo” is a bit of a downer with lyrics such as “And the question that you’re going to ask is / Did it amount to anything?” and other bits about the flies waiting for you to die but to distract you from getting too glum the band hits you with walls of deliciously noisy guitars and a rockier beat in “Halfway Houses of the Holy”. A somber piano and orchestral feel permeate both “Unfaithful Arms” and the album closer, “American Music”, showing a mature flair for composition within the cramped confines of the three minute song. My favorite song, however, is “Puppet Show”, a lively ditty where The Turtles meet The Zombies for a romp at the playground, wrapping a 3/4 beat around mischievous organs that are Lennon’s snide remarks against McCartney’s silly love songs.

I’m not really sure why they call the album Bacteria unless it’s because the songs are infectious, sticking in your mind and eventually crippling your immune system to the point where all you want to do is lay on the davenport and listen to this album. Like Elvis Costello, from whose song they took their name, Suit of Lights does an amazing job of crafting slightly off-center rock songs that bear definite traces of its late 60s art rock heritage.

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