I’m often skeptical of bands who define themselves as “genreless,” as Son Lux does on their website — most who label themselves as such have a strong tendency to drift into masturbatory self-importance in a paradoxical pursuit of individuality. However, in the case of their latest album, Brighter Wounds, genreless happens to be an apt description. The album is ceaselessly innovative and captivating, each song an exploration of a different genre and emotion. The album shifts seamlessly from downtempo slow-burners (“Labor”) to erratic, syncopated trip-hop (“The Fool You Need”), redolent of a more dramatic and dynamic James Blake; the progression is both surprising and natural.
Despite the restrained run time of 44 minutes, the album feels grandiose and sprawling, largely due to both the variety of instrumentation on display and the experimental structure of each track. There is not a boring or repetitive track on the album, although some are prone to a little bit of excess. I’m not a big fan of “All Directions,” which drifts too far into self-indulgence.
The singer, Ryan Lott, has a voice that is technically proficient, but tends to be a little overly-theatrical, with a certain pervasive, wavering quality that threatens to turn drama into melodrama. Lott’s voice grows tiresome toward the end of the album, but never overshadows the positives of the work.
Highlights include “Aquatic,” a reserved and thoughtful song marked by a gorgeous string motif, as well as “Dream State,” a relentlessly pounding dream pop epic — possibly their most satisfying attempt at grandiosity across the whole of Brighter Wounds. “Slowly” is excellent as well, an atmospheric groove with a stuttering rhythm and a celestial edge.
I found the album to be slightly challenging to listen to in one sitting, not because it grew dull, but because there was so much going on in every track — however, it was a rewarding challenge; it has been a while since I’ve enjoyed listening to a new album this much. There is not a dull moment during Brighter Wounds, an album worth the time of any music fan.