The indie collective's third full-length release, Beacon introduces Dia Luna as main vocalist and co-songwriter of a ten-piece Superhuman Happiness that also includes project leader Stuart Bogie and longtime members Eric Biondo and Sam Levin. Also featuring such noteworthy guests as saxophonist Colin Stetson and Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry, the album takes on a somewhat grayer hue than prior releases, particularly their effervescent debut. The group's first album since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it nevertheless retains a certain freewheeling spirit and hopeful tone, hence the title Beacon. The album opens at "Dusk" and ends with "Dawn"; the former is an ambient-leaning quasi-instrumental with a percussive groove colored by distorted voice samples and electronics. The nighttime quickly comes into focus on "Bury Me," a part dance-rock, part disco, commanding second track that commits to "dancing in the ash of yesterday." It features an exuberant tenor saxophone solo by Bogie, while Stetson's (more refined in this case) alto sax makes an appearance on the more sultry, uneasy "Quiet Streets." Midway through the track list, "Release Identity" contrasts mechanical and human elements, including bleeps, bloops, robotic chants, funky guitars, and Luna's warm, smooth vocal line. After a spookier title track, the album winds down with the quiet optimism of "Victory" ("a victory's not so far") and the more rambunctious "Victory, Pt. 2" before closing on the reassuring "Dawn." Beacon isn't without spontaneity, danceable rhythms, and impressive musicality, but its more reflective character acknowledges that it's not always time for celebration, even with a name like Superhuman Happiness.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson