Music for a Sophomore Phase

A Light Beacon

Despite its effort to bridge the gap between glacial post-rock and dense electronic ambience … Sophomore Phase isn’t quite sure what sort of record it wants to be. The album’s greatest strengths lie in beat-less, texture-based atmospherics, which make the more rock ’n’ rolling gestures feel jarring, like being forced awake from a deep sleep by a noisy garbage truck outside at dawn. When Elizabeth Smith coos I want to follow you home on standout track “Sinking Back,” it comes off as both lustful desire and an ominous threat, thanks to the evocative sense of space conjured up by airy synths. But elsewhere, live drums and overdriven guitars threaten to compromise the understated beauty of those ethereal moments. If ALB can commit to the power of his own soundscapes, the junior phase will be stronger for it.