Wednesday, September 13, 2023

‘Light Is Gone’ Is Back, Sort Of, And The Light’s Not Gone

Field Medic, aka Kevin Patrick Sullivan, is back with another box of lo-fi delights to grab you by the feels, melt your mind with the intensity of its introspection, and elevate your mumblecore heart.

‘Light Is Gone 2’ is a stylistic reboot that marks another technical development for Sullivan — like the great leap forward of its namesake 2015 debut ‘Light is Gone’. The four-track that broke new ground for Sullivan eight years ago has now exploded into a sensual and intriguing digital multiverse.

The album is dinky but oh-so chunky: its nine songs come in at just over 25 minutes, but it’s hard not to immediately play it again just to make sure it wasn’t a dream — and, if it wasn’t a dream, how to process its consequent existential epiphanies.

Track one, ‘They All Seem So Happy’, is a sparkling microcosm of the album’s whole sound world. It opens with the disarming production values of a late-night bedroom acoustic finger-picking sesh, complete with fiddling-about tape recording noises that will bring a crease of bittersweet recognition to the corners of the eyes of wanna-be and actually-are songsmiths alike. That’s the liminal space we’re in, for now. Then that splendid, heavy voice erupts, getting straight to the theme of the album: “I can feel my heart / It’s been robbed and held hostage”.

Great poetry comments on itself; see if you can remember where you left your heart when you listen to this song. Synth strings add another layer, nodding to Gordon Lightfoot’s forlorn orchestration, followed by a sharp shift into the electronic tissue of darkness where the song’s melodic patterns reiterate and complexify through spicy extensions like shards of rainbow through a black cloud.

To sum up: it’s worth listening to.

‘Tsion’ crunches in like a broken dream whose wistfulness is wryly disarmed by the prosaic humour of the lyrics — “I had to wear long pants all summer / ‘Cause I got a tattoo that looked like something it wasn’t” — and then brought powerfully back again by the harmonic progression of the chorus. It’s all held together by an insistent MGMT Grandaddy electronic motif of pop-psychedelia.

The finger-picking comes and goes throughout the album, weaving its electronic soundscapes with the retro materiality of yesterday’s teenage dreams to powerfully wistful effect. The undeniable banjo hook of ‘Without You I’d Have Nothing (& I Might Even Be Dead)’ is instantly uplifting, despite the existentially blunt lyrics. It’s like a love song by They Might Be Giants, but musically more earnest and more soulful.

‘Iwantthis2last!’ is an infectious, thumping country rock classic with a soaring Sonic Youth chorus, but it’s the narrative directness of the verses that will make it stick in your brain. We are really in L.A. and this is really now.

This is a powerfully lyrical album with some luxuriant imagery. Lines like “She’s weeping and she’s gracious like the old willow tree” in the plaintive ‘The Look On Her Face Like a Reoccurring Dream’ are programmed to snap you out of your boring office job, strip you naked, and send you jumping into the nearest wild river to finally authentically commune with the universal spirit of the cosmos.

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

John Weston


Image: ‘Light Is Gone 2’ Official Album Cover


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