Lanterns on the Lake – Until the Colours Run (Bella Union)

It’s been a bit more than two years since Lanterns on the Lake’s full-length debut, Gracious Tide, Take Me Home. In the interim, the band has shed two members (Adam and Brendan Sykes) and refocused its sound around two core elements.

The first of these is Hazel Wilde’s singing, certainly an important factor in the band’s earlier work, but here far more to the forefront (She used to share the mic with the departed Adam Sykes). She dominates in that odd way that a fragile, flickery singer can dominate–not by force but persuasion. Her voice flitters, croons, whispers, growls, and murmurs, floating effortlessly above piano in “Green and Gold,” softening the firewall of shoegazing sound in opener “Elodie.” “When this started, I was living like an animal,” she mewls at the start of “Buffalo Days,” sounding like a feral, wounded creature and lending grit and vulnerability to what has always been a voluptuous, glossy sound.

The second change is a move away from twee into more muscular, visceral rock, a shift heard mostly in the guitar and drums (and the complete absence, this time, of glockenspiel). “Elodie,” the album’s first track, opens with blistering white noise dissonance, erupting with kit-scrambling fills. Sure, it clears a space for Wilde, gives her a nearly blank canvas for the verse. But the fact that there’s some noise and spine to this one, however episodic, gives Until the Colours Run a drama and excitement that just wasn’t present on Gracious Tide.

I liked Gracious Tide just fine despite its occasional preciousness and even though its breathy, elaborately arranged songs reminded me of Beach House (and pre-live drums Beach House at that). Until the Colours Run is a huge improvement, though: bigger, messier, louder and more transcendent. If you’re into Speck Mountain, The Besnard Lakes or No Joy, this one is worth a spin.

Jennifer Kelly