The Luxembourg Signal

Blue Field

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After the release of their self-titled debut in 2016, the Luxembourg Signal added two new members to their lineup, making themselves a septet in the process. Not surprisingly, their next album, 2017's Blue Field, displayed fuller arrangements that filled their helium-light indie pop with some depth and scope. Instead of sounding like they could have been part of Sarah's last-day roster, as they did on their first album, here they have the feel of a band on mid-period Creation instead. With vocalist Beth Arzy joined by Betsy Moyer, the band now has two excellent singers. They both have breathy, soft voices that sound winsome on their own, while having plenty of emotional power when joined together in harmony. The band responds by backing them with echoing guitars, cloudbursts of keyboard, and a thundering rhythm section. The approach works really well for them, and unlike a lot of bands that sound bloated when they pump up their sound, the Luxembourg Signal come off really well in the bargain. The bandmembers have a strong sense of when to bury the listener in fuzzy waves of sound and when to scale back; they are able to marshall their instruments into hypnotic walls of sound; and they never sacrifice melody for noise. Tracks like the loping "Are You Numb?" and the subdued "Antarctica" prove that the band has a mastery of this hybrid indie pop/dream pop approach, and the rest of the album creates a mood that switches between sweet melancholy and small-scale epicness in ways that most old shoegazers and dream poppers wish they could still manage. They even get a Field Mice co-sign with the appearance of that band's Bobby Wratten as guest lead vocalist on the dreamy "Fall Feeling." Not only do the Luxembourg Signal sound the equal of the bands that inspired them, with the majestic "Laura Palmer" they've crafted something that surpasses those bands on many counts. It's not an easy trick to pull off, but given the Luxembourg Signal's experience, skill, and willingness to bare their melodic emotions, they do pull it off quite often on this album -- more so than on their debut, more so than most bands plying a similar trade -- which makes Blue Field quite impressive indeed.

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