Peaking Lights - Lucifer

Pop sounds meet lo-fi dub-psych experimentation.

Label: Weird World

Rating: 8

After last year’s acclaimed ‘936’ from Wisconsin-based married duo Aaron Coyles and Indra Dunis, aka Peaking Lights, a new full-length in just under a year was the last thing we expected. Although, with the birth of their son Mikko, the guiding light muse for their new album, it seems that they’re in such a great place as a family they were able to work quickly on ‘Lucifer’. Worries about the quality of the album due to the quick recording process will be quashed when you hear the delightful, hypnotising psychedelic-dub sounds that featured so heavily on ‘936’ but with a cleaner and lighter perspective. There’s no doubt that this has come just in time for summer, providing the perfect soundtrack to the festival season and those long days when you sit in the shade with a cool drink.

In tribute to their newly born son Mikko, ‘Beautiful Son’ sees Dunis’ breathy vocals light the way through this touching ode to new life. Although it’s hard to pick out the lyrics due to a wall of echoes that surrounds her voice, you can hear the joy and true happiness that they, as a family unit, are experiencing. Lead single ‘Lo Hi’ is also in tribute to Mikko, featuring his garbled noises, making a fitting entrance to this new stage in Peaking Lights’ career and you can’t help but feel like you’re experiencing their journey through this one song.

‘Live Love’, however, has a tropical atmosphere with layers of sunshine whilst a rudimentary bassline runs underneath, sounding like the soundtrack to a summer holiday. The mood changes constantly through the record and ‘Cosmic Tides’ starts with a low end bass and reggae organ line, then transforming with dizzying echoes in Dunis’ vocal harmonies through as well as spirals, zaps and buzzes that create a wave effect, surely intended by the duo as Dunis talks about water, saying ‘stand on the shore / work with the sea’ as each word laps over the next. ‘Midnight (In The Valley Of Shadows)’ feels like stepping into a cowboy / sci fi hybrid movie as it features a Wild West-esque guitar riff, drum snaps and a stop / start clunky synth line that sounds like Battles’ new material. Dunis repeats the simple phrase ‘words and words’ and whilst the lyrics on ‘Lucifer’ may not be the most poetic or insightful, the delivery transforms them; so full of true love for making music and also for her husband and son.

Peaking Lights mention that they consider ‘Lucifer’ to be a nocturnal version of their sound and in a way this is a concept album about night time, starting when everyone else is asleep and then concluding before they wake up. Whilst opener ‘Moonrise’ is a cacophonous mesh of xylophones accompanied by a simple two note organ refrain in the background, closer ‘Morning Star’ has clarity as an echoed organ pattern persists until eventually it echoes out into silence. It’s not often that an album with tracks that are generally above the six minute mark are so encapsulating, with the exception of ‘936’ and a few others. Throughout, there’s a strong feeling of love and that’s what is so endearing, making you want to search deeper into their secluded bubble, away from the rest of the world. ‘Lucifer’ mixes accessible pop sounds with lo-fi dub-psych experimentation; giving old and new fans something to enjoy.