posted on August 22, 2010 19:00
A review of the album 'Open Your Arms' by Lucknow Pact
Review Snapshot: An enjoyable effort that crosses the epic/pop divide, while for the most part negating the more tedious components of that style.
The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10
Full Review: Of late there has been a flurry of bands offering up a sense of the majestic in mainstream music. From the lamentable (The Killers) to the appealing (Glasvegas), and often crossing over with a shoegaze aesthetic, the sound has manifested itself across the board, from pop to post-rock. Lucknow Pact should be counted as another edition to the cult of “the big sound.” Open Your Arms is composed of songs that sound like contained epics, with everything expected of that aesthetic: trails of echo, synth swathes and drums that sound monumental. The containment comes from the short length of each song, which prevents lapses into overindulgence. But when they display an epic flourish, Lucknow Pact don’t hold back. The opening track, “Seagulls,” with its rolling drum patterns and soaring vocals, comes from the same stylistic stock as Glasvegas; music made for the stadium rather than the club.
Some tracks progress from this short epic formula to an atmospheric style reminiscent of Seventeen Seconds-era Cure, evidenced by the combination of drum machines, acoustic guitar and high basslines. “A Guide & A Promise” showcases this aspect of the band’s sound particularly well, but it runs through the album, manifesting itself through darkly ethereal electronics and echo effects; maybe it’s due to the band’s home country of Sweden, but one can’t help but think of adjectives like “icy” or “glacial” when listening to Lucknow Pact’s forays into the late post-punk style.
It’s easy to focus entirely on this aspect of the album, but encased within the encompassing production there are definite hooks and catchy melodies. “A Few Drinks Later” is driven by buoyant guitars and piano, but lyrically is typical of this pessimistic album; while the refrain “we shine, yes we shine” is joyous in the context of a successful relationship, it turns to a plead to the past when the same relationship goes sour and the two are “now enemies,” the other half talking like they “never knew” the anguished vocalist.
The album’s deft combination of indie-pop and towering production is a successful combination for the most part, but this marriage always runs the risk of dissolving into a hazy pulp; while they stave this off for the majority of Open Your Arms, on a full listen the album begins to flounder toward the late middle point. When taken alone each song makes for intriguing listening, but as a whole the production and aesthetic become slightly characterless.
Open Your Arms can’t be dismissed based on this alone – such pitfalls come with the style the band works in. When it works (a lot more often than when it fails) it lends a pleasing counterpoint to the melodic tunes that form the core of the album. From the “contained epics” to the pleasingly poppy, Lucknow Pact deliver a gratifying listen that works better on repeated, closer listens, the nuances of each song revealed when separated from one another.
Lucknow Pact - A Few Drinks Later by Playground Music