Light Works is Cleveland, OH-based Aloha’s transformation from pop-prog into full-on pop. It’s an interesting change, as the group’s previous sounds, while veering from free jazz to post-rock, have always carried a very accessible flavor at their core. Like their like-minded brethren Pinback, their experimentalism mostly comes in unexpected modifications in textures and time signatures rather than from delving into the avant-garde.
This go around, the group eschews its fringe elements along with the vibraphone — their signature instrument — and has crafted an acoustic-based album heavily indebted to lush ’60s baroque pop. The opener “Body Buzz” could easily have come from a b-side session of The Kinks or Love in their prime, with its strident strum and vocal harmonies. “The End” seethes and lilts like early Neil Young, stretching out its folkiness under a falsetto plea. “Equinox” comes closest to touching on the group’s previous sounds and arrangements; it’s a droning and languid body of sound, barely rippling with a banjo melody, reverb-ringed guitar leads and dewy cymbal hits. As satisfying as the releases in Aloha’s left-of-center catalog have been, it’s almost more exciting to hear them finally make their “pop” album. A definite winner.
Polyvinyl Records: www.polyvinylrecords.com