Album Review: Light Asylum - Light Asylum

22 May 2012 | 7:23 pm | Brendan Telford

Light Asylum is an intimidating force, albeit a rather confusing one.

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Light Asylum is an intimidating force, albeit a rather confusing one. The duo – Shannon Funchess and Bruno Coviello – play in the darkwave genre with aggressive force, crunching down on dark textures whilst offering intermittent glimpses of light and hope, Funchess' Mad Max-loving fashion sense, and her booming, manly vocals. And there are moments on their eponymous debut album where all of these bellicose axioms are poured into a song, percolated to where they're ready to explode, so one can sit back and watch the destruction unfold. Yet on Light Asylum, the duo does this all the time – so much so that a mess ends up just being a mess.

First two tracks Hour Fortress and Pope Will Roll benefit from some great vocal delivery from Funchess, and on the former a tinny-yet-insistent beat that refuses to quit. Funchess is foxy and hostile, a female mixture of Future Islands' Samuel T Herring and Nick Cave at his most vitriolic, yet sometime more is less. Single IPC goes well for a time, but Coviello's production feels two-dimensional, and by the time Sins Of The Flesh rolls around Funchess is starting to grate, which is a real shame. They've said in the past that they're able to hypnotise and hold an audience in a state of bondage; yet the power of such strong assertions is that we are left wanting more. Most of the blame has to fall at Coviello's feet, as his bland synth lines, rather than create a blank canvas for Funchess to reign supreme, actually places her in a box with limited possible outcomes.

One feels that Light Asylum offers less aural ecstasies and more diminishing returns.