Peaking Lights Cosmic Logic

[Weird World; 2014]

Styles: pop, conciseness, dub, post-dub, electronic, deadpan, new age
Others: Broadcast, Stereolab, Not Not Fun

Peaking Lights are writing pop songs now. This isn’t to say that their earlier works weren’t permutations of pop in their own rights, but Cosmic Logic finds a Peaking Lights led not by a sprite through winding dub-tunnels, but by the deadpan angel of electronic psych-pop. While Indra Dunis’s vocals were once used, as in the dub tradition, as another instrument in a collection, they are now leading the songs. Not Not Fun’s influential presence is now mere context — history, a background — not Peaking Lights’ current method. They are writing songs, like how Broadcast or Stereolab might have written songs.

This may all read like the marking of some great moment of change for the duo, but that isn’t so. The sounds of this album are the same sounds from which they have gained a following, but cut into song-length statements (often hanging around four minutes), reined in, not allowed to explore for too long. One wouldn’t think of Peaking Lights at the mention of the word “anthem,” but this is exactly the word one must apply to songs like “New Grrrls,” “Bad With The Good,” and “Everyone And Us” — respectively: a feminist retrospective and list of personal heroes (it brings giddy tears to my eyes!); a meditation on the interconnectedness of light and dark; and a spacey, sweet pop piece built around notions of inter-everything solidarity.

Cosmic Logic is the pill form of Peaking Lights. Measured for safety and efficacy, but easily abused if taken in large doses. An entire album of these pop-bursts somehow feels more exhausting than the long-form works of the earlier albums. For short walks into town, for trips to the grocery store, for on and off listening, this is a wonderful album. Each song is important and crafted like a good, trippy piece of tight modern sculpture. But a straight listen-through? It can grow monotonous.

This is a good album, sure, but a better collection of songs. That is not an easy thing for me to say, as a probably-pretentiously self-labelled “album person.” But I mean it this time: all of these songs are undeniably solid, but just don’t sit down expecting some sort of 45-minute vision. Take it one step at a time, use a different logic, and you’ll be 11 good songs richer.

Links: Peaking Lights - Weird World

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