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Wan Light – Space Canaries album review

Dream pop has been a favorite path for modern rock bands to take since the genre’s mid-eighties inception, and why not? The lush, alien sound of the genre has proven a favorite of indie rock fans for years. Combining it with electronics, as Wan Light do here, also seems to be a popular process. I imagine this is on account of the Soft Bulletin, to which is album owes quite the debt: “Materials” and “Subway Dreams” could have come right off of that album, and [singer]’s voice recalls Wayne Coyne’s.

I’m not sure I’m willing to put this among the elite of electronic-inspired dream pop, but it’s still quite good. One thing’s for sure: Krister Svensson and Magnus Karnock know their craft. They also have their own spin on the genre – whereas many of these symphonic dream pop albums are more on the grandiose side of things (a consequence of being influenced by the Soft Bulletin), this is restrained and highly introspective, which is probably why the first two tracks took a couple of listens to really click with me. I’m now able to appreciate the strong melodies of “Drummers on Trampolines” and “Lifeboats,” but their charms are extremely subtle so it takes a little time. It helps to really listen to this album and work out its idiosyncrasies, instead of putting it on in the background while you do something else. It requires attention, and believe me it deserves it.

There are plenty of immediately rewarding tracks here, though. Most notable among them is the title track, a rich, melancholy tapestry of sound with some gorgeous synthesizers, and “Sunset Park,” which makes for a fine closer – not only does it perfect the hushed, dreamy, introspective sound that this album is all about, it does so with the strongest melody. I don’t know if they sequenced it last to give the listener the sense that it was supposed to be everything the album was building up to, but it sure seems that way to me. I’m also quite fond of “Soapbox Race,” whose slight funk influence reminds me of the Fight Club soundtrack.

There are also four brief songs here that seem to function as interludes, and those kind of frustrate me as many of them present good ideas that I would have liked to see developed. Take “Between” – the acoustic guitar sounds fantastic woven in with all of the airy synthesizers, which would have made it a great full-length song; unfortunately, it wraps up in under a minute. “Pulling My Sleep” is all acoustic and has a nice minor-key melody, and I would’ve loved to hear more of that, too. Ah well.  The point stands that if you’ve got a taste for this sort of thing, you really can’t go wrong here. It’s not the ideal place to start for the genre – too introspective to really be typical of it – but genre connoisseurs should find it a respectable next step.

By Christopher William Schahfer

An English major from Detroit who's been writing about music for about ten years now. It's good stuff, I'm tellin' ya - great way to organize my opinions and thoughts and, more importantly, get to the bottom of why I think the way I do.

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