By Liv Ingram, July 16 2015 —
Although Bones is the fourth album from Son Lux, the brainchild of American musician Ryan Lott, this is the first time the artist has bandmates.
After 2011’s Lanterns, Lott worked with drummer Ian Chang and guitarist Rafiq Bhatia to add depth to the album’s live performance. Their collaboration was successful, and Chang and Bhatia have become permanent additions to the project. The trio are so in sync that it sounds like they should have been there all along.
Lott’s arresting voice breaks through a thick wall of baroque noise in album opener “Breathe In.” When Lott sings “you have only just begun,” his words are a primer for the album. The music is still Son Lux’s unmistakable hazy indie rock, but Lott begins exploring new themes and styles.
As Bhatia’s guitar fades from the track, the sound is replaced with a booming, distorted piano and the first bars of “Change is Everything” begin. As Bones moves fluidly from inorganic to organic sounds, the dichotomy of Son Lux’s classical influences and digital instrumentation shine through, making the single one of Bones’ best. The beautiful backing track is supported by Lott’s powerful lyrics. His words often sound deceiving, making his real intentions ambiguous.
The album follows a natural progression. Each song builds on the last as Son Lux crafts a technically adventurous soundscape. But this progression doesn’t always work. The track “White Lies” abruptly takes on a club vibe that feels ill-placed and inconsistent with the rest of the album.
The musicians’ classical backgrounds shine through in “Now I Want” as Lott and a choir trade gorgeous vocal lines.
The influence is even more prominent in the subtly epic orchestral arrangement of the album’s final track, “Breathe Out.” The ending of Bones also establishes a beautiful symmetry in the album. True to the title, the song feels like a deep exhalation.
Overall, Bones is an excellent release that marks an exciting new evolution in Son Lux’s already stunning discography. This album is well worth exploring.