Play of Light

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The initial electronic arrangement that opens the album suggests one thing, but the exultant full-band follow-up, especially the guitar shimmer and crash courtesy of lead singer Christopher David, demonstrates that Judith has more options than some. Play of Light is a defiantly out-of-time album, drawing on many different influences from the '80s, but the multiplicity of the trio's inspirations is what makes the album a good listen. One band in particular does seem like a key foundation -- Xymox, at least in their earliest days, wracked and fierce but not without a certain clean power. The secret to Judith's success is that they don't forget the "rock" part of the "goth rock" tag, with plenty of drama (rumbling, tribal drums, medieval folk-inspired chords, the deep acoustic-based power of "Air of Lovers") to go along with the loud volume. David's deep-voiced singing perhaps inevitably calls to mind such singers as Andrew Eldritch and Ian McCulloch, but he never completely sounds like he's making pronouncements from the pulpit. Even when delivering lines like "Without a miracle/does God exist?," one can always enjoy his carefully controlled singing as it stands (and crucially, he doesn't make the Wayne Hussey mistake of straining one too many times). Instrumentally, he creates both spindly, wiry, and wired work and more full-bodied crunch, while the Damian James/Brian Veit rhythm section can and does kick up a crisp, loud noise when needed. Additional keyboards from David add depth and detail, and just a bit of extra spookiness as required. If in the end Play of Light will make a listener want to rush out and dig up their old Cure, Siouxsie, and Cult albums, its chief appeal is that it prompts such comparisons in the first place, and not unfavorable ones at that.

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