Lovers – Dark Light

Lovers – Dark Light

Since 2001, Carolyn Berk has been the enchanting voice behind Lovers’ sweetly decorated pop gems. As a voice that is both immediately soothing and enthralling, it’s an easy job getting lost in the Portland-based band’s melodically-enriched pop music. For Dark Light, Berk enlisted the help of Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan in bringing these ten songs to life. It’s obvious that from the outset, with “Barnacle,” the steadfast trio know how to work well together. Each musician compliments their counterparts’ weaknesses with careful attention and, in the end, Dark Light is exactly as its title depicts with its oxymoron: sadly uplifting.

As a songwriter, Berk treads the beams of melancholy stories about innocent hearts that get caught in the crossfire we call love. These Lovers know that ultimately, you’re bound to get rejected and turned down, but it’s the outcome from those missteps that count. On “Boxer,” Berk sings “What a drag not to know how you are, or which of us got the raw deal,” in bluntly succinct terms. The music guides with an 80s-drive that’s equipped with its own atmospherics and, in the same sense, it’s like the soft pop of The XX. Dreamy and engagingly gentle, Lovers always give their music the faintest touches of care and their songs benefit from such contemplative selections of pop.

Despite the fact that all of the promotional shots for the album resemble the same images Arcade Fire chose for The Suburbs, there is also a great deal of nostalgia and reflection in the roots of Dark Light. Surely the likeness is coincidental, on “To Be a Dancer (I Am Alive)” the band livens up the air with an impressive mix of electronics and capricious melodic vocals. It’s the seasoned, opportunistic kind of song that could blow over inside of any club, or in the backyard of any local house party, with its bumping beats and energized music. The pace is always at the front of the beat and it’s a direct change of pace for what is, mostly, a laid-back stand-off.

Taking in all of the swift decisions, the album’s core of music is always the sentimentally-charged kind. Songs drift in and out of the pensive realm with an outlook that drafts the instruments passionate exploration. On their first album together, Berk seems to be the one most enjoying herself: her voice sounding as if it’s five years younger and, naturally, the other members thrive because of it. Dark Light, as they sing on the aforementioned song is about making decisions: “Raise your flag, it’s do or die now,” and in turn, moving on.

The subject material is just what you’d expect from an album of its drifting ability. You wouldn’t want to have the subtle tones and under-movements clouded with anything other than gloomy words. Lovers are the essential flag-bearer for a movement that is both about representation and acceptance – Dark Light is just another step in the right direction.

Badman Recording Co.