Having collaborated with everyone from Lorde, to Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti on joint project Sisyphus, ‘Bones’ sees Ryan Lott stepping back to centre-stage, while expanding Son Lux into a three-piece. The addition of Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia only amps up Lott’s innate theatricality, and while it’s still rooted in all things digital, this is Son Lux’s most intensively orchestral album yet. Stamping Lott’s own unmistakable voice on every square foot of post-rock concrete, ‘Bones’ draws on last record ‘Lantern’s frayed threads of invention, and hones it down into a singular pursuit of drama.
At times, that drama can feel just a smidge overblown. The operatic melody patterns and plunking organs of ‘Change Is Everything’ wouldn’t sound altogether uncomfortable sat in the middle of a Meatloaf number, and elsewhere, the sheer barrage of shape-shifting textures all gets a bit too much. Like binge-watching Netflix series, or eating too many sherbet dib-dabs, it’s not really an unpleasant kind of onslaught, but it does leave you missing the magnetic minimalism of Son Lux’s best single to date, ‘Easy’.
‘Bones’ is almost as dramatic as a standard week on Albert Square.
That said, Lott’s innovation and skill is clearly apparent, particularly in his production. Beyond the initial attack of Son Lux’s symphonic pop, more subtle found sounds are packed into every available millimetre of space. Lott experiments with everything he can get his inventive mitts on; from snatched fragments of mumbled conversation, to getting together in a room with musician and ‘Beyoncé production mastermind BOOTS, covering a piano with paper, and hitting it. And why not, eh?
When Son Lux really hit their stride, ‘Bones’ is haunting, arresting, and unlike anything else. ‘You Don’t Know Me,’ is a rhythmic chameleon, glimmering its eyes uneasily, and the “heavy cage of bones” of ‘Flight’ sound even more sinister set against chirpy little woodwind flourishes. Though ‘Bones’ is almost as dramatic as a standard week on Albert Square - occasionally to its detriment - it’s also impossible to fault this album’s single-minded pursuit of sheer, maxed out saturation.