Every year sees older bands trying to stay fresh and relevant among the alarming number of new bands springing up every day. Lydia, a favorite in the scene for quite some time, has become one of these bands. Even with a masterpiece like Illuminate under its belt, Lydia still has something to prove to old fans who are growing up and out of this specific scene, and to new fans who are used to fast-paced bands with a good chant in each song. While Lydia’s 2013 album Devil may not be the biggest success as far as appeasing either of those demographics, it certainly is not an album that should get glanced over.
Lydia tends to hone in on slower, vocal-driven rock melodies to haunt listeners’ psyches with ghostly vocals and wispy instrumentation. But Devil is different. What could be sufficiently categorized as a summer release, except for the release month, Devil treads some new ground for Lydia. The main difference between Devil and Lydia’s past releases are its central focus on tunes that can only be described as “sunset melodies”: melodies that are fully capable of bringing listeners back to the common memory of the perfect sunset. Some of the choruses are enormous, featuring grandiose guitars and keys locked into place by Leighton Antelman’s signature vocal style. Tracks like single “Knee Deep” pack in singable verses with a chorus that simply hovers delicately until it thickens as it settles in the listener’s mind. These are traits that are expected from Lydia, but somehow come off as new and fresh.
Standouts “Hurry Back Tonight” and the title track solely carve out a new found sound for Lydia as their jubilant and upbeat choruses are the most singable, the most listenable and the clearest on the entirety of Devil. As a band used to making slow to mid-tempo songs, it is definitely refreshing to hear something that sounds like a mix of Hellogoodbye’s Would It Kill You and I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business. It is always a little strange to hear such happy melodies and lyrics from Antelman, but here they work tremendously.
In contrast to the aforementioned tracks is “Take Your Time,” which features hardy guitar riffs and a strong edge that’s difficult to come by in Lydia’s back catalog. Where “Hurry Back Tonight” was refreshing in a poppy sense, “Take Your Time” is equally refreshing, but in a way that shows a sense of urgency in Lydia’s instrumentation, something that could have been a big risk for the band but panned out well.
Lydia, the indie brainchild of Arizona native Leighton Antelman, has released four studio albums, a homemade tour EP, and now an acoustic EP of re-worked songs, entitled Acoustics ’12. With their most recent release, the band sidesteps the minimal instrumentation and obligatory stomp-claps of the typical “acoustic EP.”
“I’ve Never Seen A Witch,” the EP’s opener and standout track, is a dreamy underwater ballad showcasing Antelman’s Nate Ruess-esque vocals over dense, gentle keyboards and minimalist drumming. Superb tension is created by the song’s loose dynamic space and emotional chord progressions, and passion is furthered by Antelman’s lively vocal expression.
“Best Nights” follows, trading drums for gentle acoustic guitars and toning down the density of the keyboard. The guitar strumming is noticeably restrained in order to fit within the lullaby confines of the song’s shell, but the playing still sounds effortless. Keyboard dances in and out of frame without distracting from Antelman’s vocals, although they could use some distraction—in this song in particular Antelman sounds awkwardly haughty and snide as his emotive presentation dances over “Still wishin’ I was inside your bedroom/Talking shit for the hell of it” and “God damn that just feels right.”
“We Clean Up So Well” and “Skin + Bones” are both simple, tender acoustic tracks. The former features a pleasant surprise cameo from the keyboard during the bridge when the acoustic guitar drops out. Subtle snaps in the last chorus nestle perfectly into the mix. “Skin + Bones” is a warm ballad in which Antelman allows himself a few gleeful melodic leaps during the verse. Combined with bouncing “ooh’s,” the song carries a delightfully innocent, lighthearted tone.
Well, at least Mark Hoppus had the balls to admit it? A physical release of the blink’s new EP is something many fans are craving, whether its on CD or LP. Fingers crossed they get around to it by the next time they tour.
And it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a taste of new music until they get a taste of a contract. It strikes a weird chord to think that the band still does not have a label with as much time as they’ve had to talk to one. Whether they do go with a label or choose to self-release, there’s a good chance we won’t be hearing any new music for quite some time still.
It looks Like Victory Records will be letting the band’s album out of purgatory, finally. An April release is most likely.
We’re very happy for our friends in Modern Baseball who will be reissuing their debut LP this spring via RFC. They’ll also begin working on some new recordings later on in the spring.
The November 2012 reunion will not be the band’s only comeback show. A string of dates? A tour? We’ll see.
Give the previously unreleased demos a spin if you’re crazing anything “new” from Man Overboard.
Interesting track. This is not the same song in the teaser for the band’s new album, but that’s not a bad thing. Devil will be out on March 19th.
Fueled By Ramen Records kept this bad boy locked up for nearly a year, so good for A Rocket To The Moon. I wonder where VersaEmerge’s new album is?