There isn’t really a way of describing Peaking Lights’ music, and their stellar third LP, Lucifer, without slipping into an adjective-athon that involves words like “druggy,” “opiatic,” “glacial,” and “dubby.” There’s basically no way around this; Peaking Lights do one thing—glacially paced, opiatic psych-dub—and they do it well. They’re also about the least likely band to have this amount of hype; it’s not like the market for songs that sound like the soundtrack to an imagined psychedelic western movie is booming.
But Lucifer is an achievement, one that even outpaces the band’s beloved 2011 breakthrough, 936. This stuff is hard to write about without adjective dumps because it’s so restrained, so subdued, so perfectly suited to every mood. Music like Peaking Lights’ needs subtle changes to stay fresh and Lucifer flips the formula just enough. Where 936 was all desert haze and languid tempos, Lucifer is a faster moving landmass; an iceberg gently drifting into the ocean, a sliver of sunlight in a mausoleum. The difference is understated but the results are electric.
Superficially, things are as they always were in Peaking Lights land, with songs stretching past the six-minute mark, built on ethereal samples and mellow attitudes. “Beautiful Son” is anchored by a guitar solo, which showcases that Coyes is more than just a crate-digging maestro. The changes that are here are interpersonal; Lucifer’s creation was inspired by the band—Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes—having a kid. That kid, son Mikko, influences the album’s sparse lyrical dispatches, with themes of love, dreaming of possibility, and spectral consideration filling out the album’s eight tracks. Mikko himself even pops up here, as his coos are flipped into additional for Coyes to blend into his sonic mash on album highlight “Lo Hi.”
“Comforting” is yet another adjective to describe Peaking Lights, and it’s not exactly flattering, but it’s one that seems most appropriate. This is zone out music. This is music to take drugs to. This is music you listen to to make your drives on the highway seem majestic. Lucifer transforms the mundane into the magnificent, slowly but surely edging out all other summer listening options.
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