Smile Politely

Album Review: Aloha, Light Works

Now that those years are said and done, it seems like Isberg has decided to shift focus for good, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Both of his electronica projects have delivered: The International Theatre of War, as well as reds, are both packed to the gills with Depeche Mode-inspired tunes that run the gamut from totally depressed to completely uplifting.

You can hear him perform tonight with bandmate Eriq Heaton by tuning into 90.1 FM, on WEFT Sessions at 10:00 p.m. Or, if you are downtown and happen to have a sixer in your hand, stop on by the studios at 113 N. Market St. There is no cover charge, and host T.J. Hunter will be a happy to crack open a Schlitz with you if you can tell him the name of the first song on the first Nada Surf record.

Mixing in more of a wispy pastoral pop feel than previous efforts, lead singer Tony Cavallario’s airy choirboy-worthy voice succeeds well with the light bass/percussion accompaniment to the more dominant acoustic guitar driven tracks. The sound is quite a change from the usual experimental post-rock elements Aloha are known for, but older fans can still depend on the band using quieter experimental and jazz elements with non-traditional song structures.

“Broken Light” sounds like a Sufjan Stevens song driven by a slowly plucked chiming classical guitar, and benefits from the lack of a bloated “state” concept to weigh it down. Next, “Trick Spring” opens with a fluttering of the same, plodding slow single keyboard notes, with particularly soothing vocals.

Clearly having concentrated on writing more 3-minute pop-gems, “The End” sounds like a lost Oh, Inverted World tune with its sunny-sad lyrics and charming delivery. The lead off track, “The Body Buzz,” is arguably the most disarmingly soft and appealing song on the record. It engages the listener into the band’s new sound that they pull off very well on this very short and but pleasant record.

The album isn’t top to bottom, though. “Passengers” is a little too fluffy and meandering. But I’d say it is really the album’s only misstep and despite the song’s boring overtone, some shuffling drum patterns keep it interesting.

For a quick overlook at Aloha’s body of work, I wouldn’t recommend looking at Light Works first, but some of the band’s catchiest and downright delightful songs are on this album, so take your choice. Aloha knows how to write albums, and this one is no exception.

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