Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Album Review: Lusine - The Waiting Room
The Waiting Room
Jeff McIlwain, who records under the name Lusine, is mostly known for his melodic take on IDM and techno but recently has been pushing his sound in a more pop leaning direction. His latest record The Waiting Room is interesting in that, for me, it is mostly a transitional record for McIlwain, never really putting his foot down on one side of the line, bouncing back and forth between gorgeous, vocal led pop tracks and more IDM leaning instrumentals. That he can easily transition back and forth between each speaks to his talent and ear for beautiful melodies and soundscapes.
Last year's single "Another Tomorrow" was the first hint that the new record was not going to be the same old same old. A throbbing beat, springy bass line, and carefully rising keyboards provided a slinky background for heavily treated vocals. The keyboards get more wild and out of control as the song progresses, yet McIlwain holds everything in perfect balance, bringing the song to a heavenly apex.
For the most part on The Waiting Room, I am drawn to the vocal tracks. It is interesting how McIlwain pairs his electronic experiments with more traditional song structures and vocals. Album highlight, and probably one of my favorite tracks of the year so far, "Without A Plan" captures a dreamy vocal from Janelle Kienow which is covered in gauzy haze and cages it within a stuttering two-step frame as luscious synth washes and burbling electronics warm everything.
"By This Sound" is a pulsating synthpop track with more murky vocals that sets well within the complex mix of what sounds like treated guitars, glistening keyboards, and quirky electronic flourishes.
"Lucky" is a gorgeous, half funky space synth workout which borders the line between IDM and modern R&B.
The only real disappointment on the vocal tracks is McIlwain's cover of Electronic's "Get The Message," which trades the original's goofy charm for a more austere sonic palate.
The instrumentals on The Waiting Room are nothing to sniff at in comparison. McIlwain moves back and forth from more dancefloor-centric tracks like trance workout "Stratus," with its swirling keyboards and bubbling baselines,
and closing track "February" which throbs and pulses with head bobbing enthusiasm, and moodier instrumentals like the stuttering "On Telegraph," or the aptly titled "Panoramic" which opens things up with expansive M83-style dramatics.
The Waiting Room keeps morphing and changing for me. One day the instrumentals seem to be what is dictating the flow and course of the record, while on others the vocal tracks are the touchstones. Lately, the mix seems perfectly right, and the album's journey is adventurous and over with way too soon. McIlwain is definitely coming in to his own as Lusine, and The Waiting Room is the record that finally shouts out that he is here.
Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.
Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.
Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.
Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.
Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.
Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.
Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.