Durham’s Lilac Shadows have crafted strange and comforting worlds on their previous releases. With Brutalism, their second proper full length album, they explore what happens to those worlds when you introduce turmoil.
The heavy, exposed bass line of opening track “Black Lodge” signals a shift. Lilac Shadows has always preferred darker tones, but rarely with edges as clear as these. The track builds and stops just short of a resolution.
That tension is put to good use on “Alive in a Dying History.” Listeners can hear the band’s former world fraying in the saxophone in the background. It all catches fire with about a minute left as the guitars and drums peak and vocalist Sam Logan starts screaming.
By putting so much force behind its psychedelic textures, Brutalism creates complex sounds that make the listener want to lean in closer even as the album pounds the eardrum. “Fly in the Ointment” sounds like a high speed bulldozer and it plows right into the dizzying rhythms of “Spinning.”
Up until the final track, “Alive in a Dying History” sounds like a premature climax. “More” solves that with a wholly satisfying final 90 seconds that sends Lilac Shadows into orbit.
Brutalism shows that while creating worlds is fulfilling, razing them to the ground is a thrill.
Brutalism is out now on DiggUp Tapes. Lilac Shadows will play the Cat's Cradle Back Room on April 10 with Some Army and Body Games. Tickets are $7 via Ticketfly.