My Milky Way Arms – Lightsaber Circuit Breaker

My Milky Way Arms - Lightsaber Circuit Breaker

Chase Hill, aka My Milky Way Arms, while still inhabiting the electro-pop realm, changes his sound from his self-titled EP to this debut album, going from the Sigur Ros-like blissful buoyancy of the EP to a manically playful take on childhood and sci-fi themes, including whole songs that are devoted to Star Wars and X-Men on Lightsaber Circuit Breaker.

The shift is subtle at first, as the starting three minutes of opening track “Control Room Ecstasy” are reminiscent of the EP, imbued with a Sigur Ros-like exalted sound of gloriously high-pitched, sustained organ notes, burbling synths, and shimmering cymbal crashes, with Chase’s vocals gliding in and peaking at a high altitude like Jonsi.  The song “proper”, so to speak, continues after this intro, switching to a smooth beat and low-key, straightforward organ notes and various synth sounds.

The sonic spaceship that is Lightsaber Circuit Breaker crash lands into alien territory for most of the rest of the album, with “Fillenium Malcon” zipping by with perky reverberations, laser blips, and Rivers Cuomo-like vocals as an effervescently anxious Chase exclaims “Light speed, Chewie / tractor beam / I’ve got a bad feeling / Is it too late to go home?”

Chase has a habit of writing tight pop song structures and then coating them with crazy electronic sounds and burying his wordy vocals a tad too low in the mix.  “Marvin Zindler” is no exception with its funhouse mix of rising squirks, whirling bubbles, arcade game dings, crashing cymbals, and helium-high vocals.

Next track “Colossus” references all-things X-Men like Magneto, Rogue, and Wolverine, so slip on the headphones to pick out the cool lyrics like “You can try the best you can / to take the metal from my hands / I’ll take you piece by piece / and rip you all to shreds.”

“Honeymoon” sways with a laid-back beat and fuzzy buzz, but still features percolating synth notes that lend a brightness to the sound.  Again, the traditional pop song structure is dressed up in electronic frills and thrills with Chase singing in a light, but melancholic tone, swinging sweetly higher at the ends of phrases on the chorus.

The Looney Tunes wind-up starts “Helicopter” on a manic ascent as Chase chatters away amid a fast beat, R2-D2-like electronic squiggles, and bouncy synths.  “Eleventeen” (hmmm, could this be a nod to Daisy Chainsaw’s album or is it just about childhood memories and fantasies?) has a shimmering, bright star sound, deep organ notes, galloping beat, and Chase sounding like Rivers Cuomo again, complete with Weezer-like “Ooohs”.

There are two instrumentals on the album, one being “Corellian Bloodstripes” which deals in an occasional machine gun fire beat and stinging, harpsichord-like notes, and the other being “Early Retirement” which closes the album on a serious note with a slower pace and grander, contemplative sound that visually calls to mind the view of the cosmos while staring through a telescope as buzzing low-tone synths and passing-star zooms fill the void.

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