CD Review – Light By The Sea – Only Death Makes Icons

This, the debut album from Dutch duo Light By The Sea, is an intriguing one. The band believe that they are on a musical journey which wasn’t planned, but was meant to be. Created during the Covid related quarantine, this project is the lovechild of Eszter Anna Baumann and Davy Knobel, whose broad-ranging music consists of rock, avant garde and folk music elements. Light By The Sea’s aim is to bring back the ‘forgotten sound’ with their music. A band not without ambition, then.

The band’s influences are very wide ranging, Dead Can Dance, U2, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Phil Collins, Clannad, Fleetwood Mac and The Dandy Warhols would be amongst them. There are traces of other acts too. Some of the guitar work wouldn’t be too out of place on All About Eve songs for example, as on Mr Wonderman. The duo never wavers from a strong pop music ethic though, not cutting loose with soloing at any time (although some of the tunes are instrumentals). The tunes fall roughly within the time limits of two and a half to five minutes, leaning the music towards being pithy and pointed rather than expansive and rambling. There is a very psychedelic air to it too.

The lyrics are quite deep at times, tending towards the psychological. There is always a strong positive element there, a spiritual side without being religious. There is also a fair amount of fantasy at play too, with the track Eleanor being a ghost story, while Lupercalia In Neptune’s Temple and Chelsea Is A Mermaid And She’s Soaking In are more blatantly so. But the tracks are very listenable, often multi-layered and textured. The musicianship is good, the guitars particularly shine from the outset. But what is intriguing is the use of Eszter Anna Baumann’s voice, which will inevitably see her being compared to Kate Bush with her ethereal tendencies. But her voice is often used as another instrument, and with the multi-textured structures of the songs can slip back into the mix and become part of the music. Which is a positive aspect of the songs. Her voice also has the benefit of great range, in a similar way to that of Florence Welch from Florence And The Machine and to a lesser degree Courtney Swain from Bent Knee. The songs are also well arranged and orchestrated, under pinned with some impressive song writing skills. 

This is a stylish, artful and classy art-rock release. It is adventurous and fearless, a highly imaginative reflection on our current situation. Although the pall of Covid lockdown provides the background for the creation of the music it does not dominate it in a negative way. Indeed, the songs are quite positive in their outlook. Which reflects the band’s aims for the album; “Writing this album together was the greatest musical adventure we could ever experience. Stuck in our apartment during lockdown, we were surrounding ourselves with great icons in thought, who inspired our music and lyrics. We have been being nostalgic about the past, as the pandemic evoked a sort of obsession about the ‘good old times’ within us. We think with a lot of people this has happened lately. Therefore, we want you to dive into the forgotten sound with us and enjoy this musical ride together praising our eternal heroes. Because remember: only death can make icons, humans just play God. “

1 In Transition Time

2 Mr Wonderman

3 Hollywood Vampire

4 Little Jeane

5 Lupercalia In Neptune’s Temple

6 Willow Creek

7 Eleanor

8 Crimson Sugar

9 Where Have The Dandies Gone

10 Chelsea Is A Mermaid And She’s Soaking In

Eszter Anna Baumann

Davy Knobel

Instrumentation not given

Release date: 22nd October, 2021

Label: Self released

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