Lights at Sea - Palace Walls (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Lights at Sea

Palace Walls (2010)

Barrett / Mind Over Matter

Lights at Sea's Palace Walls was an apparently overlooked post-rock standout of 2010. The Michigan act's first full-length is an engaging and concise listen with just the right touches of post-metal muscle and otherworldly spaciness. This is a lot like the less new wave-y stuff turned out in mass quantities by The Mylene Sheath (Caspian, Gifts from Enola, Constants), and just about as good in many regards.

After an intriguing intro in the 1:23 "Fireside", the band bravely place their longest song second. It's the eight-minute title track, and it saunters and layers in quick, building waves, with a few caustic clusters in the middle before being pulled back to establish a new atmosphere of rhythmic riffs spiraling into a descent, leading into a bass-ridden climax. The heavy "Blight" blasts in next, and its bits of intricate percussion, energetic guitar reverberations and overall textural dynamism is very cool; its aggressive, rippling finale is gripping, too.

Midway through "Mantracker" there are some crazy, erratic rhythms that remind me of the Mercury Program, but then a ringing, pulsing guitar tone swings through that's straight Explosions in the Sky worship (some of which infects the shorter "Ode to Malory", which has a curiously hazy tint about it).

There's essentially more of the same with closing duo "This Is a House of Learned Doctors" and "Truck Party"–the latter with a light throb about its final minute–but it takes out Palace Walls well enough. Lights at Sea have crafted a pretty fine debut here that would probably stand out in 2011, too. (It's a bit better than Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, anyway.)

Palace Walls