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Rockin’ Our Turntable: Light Pollution

By Sarah Cobarrubias in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 7, 2010 3:20PM

Image via Light Pollution's MySpace
There's no doubt that musical acts are influenced by their particular environments, and Chicago four piece Light Pollution is no exception. Their blend of indie and psych rock is hazed over with chilled out shoegaze, a sound that gives the impression that these guys spent a lot of time smoking pot in the cornfields of DeKalb, where the group formed during college. But unlike life in the rural Midwest, their sound isn’t stagnant and mundane; rather it’s densely layered with pop melodies, hooks and a whole lot of reverb for something that feels warm, textured and deliberately flustered.

The band’s recently released debut LP Apparitions was the end product of frontman James Cicero living in isolation in a warehouse, writing a recording songs alone for an entire winter. The first track, “Good Feelings” is a psych-pop hit that opens slowly with a fuzzy mess of mechanizes blips, but then erupts into a harmonic mesh of whirling guitar, arpeggiated synth and quivering theremin as vocalist James Cicero proclaims with emotional vigor “Are you going to get through?” Though this album was written in winter, it’s truly a summer album, as is proven by tracks like “Ssslowdreamsss,” with its slow-mo feel and reverb that mimic all too well the lethargic daze that comes with a heat wave.

At first listen Apparitions may seem like simple, common indie rock, but subsequent listens reveal more, such as the surf pop melody of "Oh, Ivory!” or the jazzy feel of “Fever Dreams.” Not all the tracks, however, are winners. For example, “Deyci, Right On” drags on and on only to fade out on a weak note. And “Drunk Kids,” though entrancing with its haunting, distant vocals and instruments that seem to melt together, feels all too much like drone fluff. But in all, Apparitions is a solid first effort, as the quartet takes influence from a variety of genres and turns it into a sound all their own.

If you like the album, check out Light Pollution live when they play West Fest Sunday, July 11 or the Pitchfork After Party at the Empty Bottle Friday, July 16.