» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Puffed Wheat Records

Rating: 6.5/10 ?

February 16, 2005
Though your ears may suggest otherwise, Illumina is not a Broken Social Scene member's side-project.

In fact, Illumina is simply a chamber pop ensemble from Pennsylvania, following the same formula and ethic of their neighbors to the far north: write an eclectic batch of songs, invite all of your musician friends to contribute and self-record a full-length album.

Illumina chose the perfect formula for their debut, Nightlight, because if you strip these songs down to their barest elements, all that remains are some dull, brooding folk songs with vocals that aren't strong enough to carry an album.

Fortunately, layer upon layer upon layer of horns, keys, synthesizer, strings, chimes and timpani are added to the rock essentials of Nightlight, lifting the songs above average and sometimes lifting them to greatness.

And only occasionally dragging them down.

Nightlight is a record of heady pop music like Maritime, Neutral Milk Hotel or Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World - the kind of pop that draws appreciation from informed listeners, but also the kind of pop that is ultimately too smart for its own good.

The break-down of the Low-esque "I Want to Die" is perhaps the most obvious illustration of this point, turning the song into a self-parodying downer, a throw-away track included if only for the purpose of stealing scene points from the Pennsylvania indie-rock elite.

Illumina's debut is clearly the unabridged work of a band of artists spilling everything they have into their product; however, what ultimately strips Nightlight of overall excellence is the impression that it is the work of a band of artists perhaps trying too hard to fit too many ideas - or songwriters - into one band's sound (note to Illumina: side-project).

The moments of true beauty on Nightlight are the effortless transitions (see the danceable fade-out of "Not Really, recalling Broken Social Scene with its punchy guitar and meandering strings) and the understated accompaniments, like the slide guitar of "Parts," the cello of "Lullaby," the organ of "We're in Love Again" and the banjo of "North."

While Nightlight is a flawed debut, it will have the same positive effect on the band as a losing season does on an expansion team in professional sports: next time around, some players will assume different roles, some veterans may be signed to fill some voids and, hell, maybe there will even be a new coach, but the team will improve.

As a fan, I look forward to next year.

Reviewed by Brian Sutherland
The last we heard, Brian Sutherland lived in Chicago. He\'s a friend of Sarah Peters. That is about all we know about him.

See other reviews by Brian Sutherland



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