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Album Review

On a creative roll, Lycia followed up their lengthy Burning Circle with a full new album the next year. Surprisingly and happily, Cold is no mere rehash of the previous collection, but another significant step forward in the trio's continuing sonic evolution. Two trends started on Burning Circle do play significant roles here - the further integration of Vanflower's singing, to the point where she performs on a full half of the album's songs, and the increasing role of electronics rather than guitars in providing the musical base for much of the material. "Snowdrop," literally the album's centerpiece, demonstrates both factors in full effect, as Vanflower delivers a particularly lovely performance over the keyboard-heavy song. It should also be noted that Vanflower brings a distinctly quirky edge to her lyrics, sung straight but at times sneaking in some sly humor - it makes for a nice contrast! The general theme of the album, as the title indicates, focuses on the chillier side of desolation physical and emotional both, thus song titles like "Frozen," "Bare," "Colder," "December" and so forth. If it's a concept album, however, it's no more or less so than the band's previous records in the sense of creating and maintaining an all-encompassing mood. Definite highlights include the various duets between Vanportfleet and Vanflower, notably "Bare" and "Drifting," which rides on a gentle guitar chord and Vanflower's singing of the chorus at the end - quite nice to hear. Another perfect Lycia moment: the gentle start to "December," which then fades before returning on a portentous piano figure. Simply put, another fine record from Vanportfleet and company.


Formed: 1988

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Mike Van Portfleet formed Lycia in early 1988 in his hometown of Phoenix. Inspired by post-punk and the ethereal 4AD sound of the '80s, he began experimenting with guitar loops on his four-track recorder. He recruited an old friend, bassist John Fair, to join him, and the two recorded Wake in 1989 for Phoenix's Orphanage Records. Fair left a year later to play with Caterwaul, but Van Portfleet...
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Cold, Lycia
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