Aloha

Light Works

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Aloha began as a moderately abstract post-rock outfit, but there has always been a distinct pop influence even in their most cerebral efforts. Light Works, which at seven songs is just over half-an-hour, is either a short album or a really long EP, brings the band's gentle indie pop side completely to the fore: gone are the extended instrumental musings, the jazzy vibraphone solos, and the overall sense of musical connection to the softer side of the Chicago school of post-rock. In its place, Light Works offers seven sweet-and-sour chamber pop tunes built on acoustic guitars, chiming keyboards, minimal bass and percussion, and Tony Cavallario's lighter than air vocals. The Shins and Sufjan Stevens would be obvious contemporary touchstones, especially on songs as straightforward as the sweetly poppy "The End" and the gently wistful "Passengers." But the most on-the-nose comparison to the sound of Light Works is mid-period Talk Talk, circa The Colour of Spring. There's a similar sense of spaciousness to these effortlessly pretty and determinedly non-rocking tunes. The proggier end of Aloha's fan base might find Light Works distressingly insubstantial, even verging on (horrors!) "commercial," but for their last couple of albums, Aloha have slowly been moving in this more song-based and concise style anyway, so this is more of a culmination than a change of direction.

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