At the increasingly fruitful intersection of electronica and R&B, Beacon radiate a rich darkness, the opposite of what you might expect from the moniker they’ve chosen to describe their work. There are no spotlights beaming from the two EPs this Brooklyn duo now have to their name, nothing to guide passers-by uninterrupted on their way. Instead, Beacon populate their work with dark, warm cyclones–more black holes than burning stars–that invite listeners to spiral down into their airless depths.
Just two months after their Ghostly debut, Beacon proceed with a release that serves simultaneously as a companion piece to and an evolution of their No Body EP. While titles like “Girl in a Coma” might have marked their debut with a pretense of gloom, it’s not until For Now that Beacon mine at depths that escape the daylight. The duo bundle sinister kernels inside layers of satin as they hone in on the interplay of sexuality and menace. Bristly analog bass slinks around dark corners as subtle arpeggios flicker in spots and fits. And despite the variety of genre from which Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett source their sounds–a rave pulse here, an IDM specter there–they’ve polished the EP with a lacquer that’s uniquely Beacon.
Maybe it’s too polished. While For Now‘s five tracks may remain easily distinguishable from one another, all their colors seem to be sampled from the same pearlescent palette. Highs and lows resonate within predictable registers; Mullarney’s subdued vocals glide down an unwinding velvet tunnel. Beacon exude finesse, but they don’t approach the sorts of risks we might hope to hear from a team this young. With genre peers like How to Dress Well plunging into such icy and raw emotional spaces, the smooth, slick world inside Beacon’s music feels too sealed off to present a real opportunity for connection.
As a sequel to No Body, For Now reflects a deeper dive into Beacon’s vein of elegant, understated electronica. Smokier and more haunted than its companion EP, the release remains an easy listen even as it winds down all its skillfully-wrought and dimly lit passageways. But as a project that purports on the surface to engage with emotional darkness, Beacon might do well to rub away some of that silky veneer and bare a few rough spots inside.