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Small Lights in the Dark

Lunik

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Album Review

Dwelling halfway between the Cranberries and Celine Dion, Small Lights in the Dark is a sweet but mildly exhausting piece of melodic pop heavy on melodrama and low on dynamics. The bulk of the album is made of emotive songs that sound like breathers used by girl pop/rockers such as Avril Lavigne between the faster punk numbers. It figures that someone would like these sorts of ballads enough to have a whole record based on them, and the results are nothing if not concise — the songs feature a lot of soft guitar textures, Beatlesque piano playing, and strings that go well with Jaël's tales of heartbreak and near-heartbreak, delivered in a voice that really resembles Dolores O'Riordan, only without the unnecessary vocal calisthenics. Not that Jaël cannot hit high notes, but even when she does, she still sounds resigned to her fate, which gives the songs a calming atmosphere — they are never hysterical, only a bit world-weary, almost the way good trip-hop is (which probably is not a coincidence, given Lunik's own roots in the style). But where trip-hop is hypnotic, Lunik's music remains cathartic, the way ballads are supposed to, and this does not quite work in the band's favor, because a 40-minute-long catharsis can be too much of an emotional experience. Small Lights in the Dark is actually more dynamic than it looks, as the band inserts a number of faster pop/rock tracks somewhat close to Reamonn, but those don't have any hooks, and this largely defeats their purpose, leaving the impeccably reproduced atmosphere of an introspective, lovelorn evening as the main selling point of the album.

Biography

Formed: 1997 in Switzerland

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Lunik tried out numerous members and genres before becoming a popular melodic pop outfit in the early 2000s. The band formed in Switzerland in 1997, and was originally comprised of Adi Amstutz, Luk Zimmermann, Mats Marti, Walo Müller, and Anton Hoglhammer. They brought lead singer Rahel "Jaël" Krebs into the fold one year later, at which point Hoglhammer departed. Lunik was, at this point, essentially a trip-hop ensemble. They released their first album, Rumour, in 1999, and followed it up with Ahead...
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Small Lights in the Dark, Lunik
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