Light AsylumAlbum | Light Asylum By Stewart Mason
Brooklyn electro duo's haunting debut full-length.
Brooklyn duo Light Asylum preceded their full-length debut album with a stunning single, "Shallow Tears," that occupies the exact midpoint between Power, Corruption and Lies and Leonard Cohen's I'm Your Man: epic, doom-laden electronic pop focused on Shannon Funchess' incredibly powerful vocals and a haunting, chilly melody courtesy of keyboardist Bruno Coviello. Perhaps they shouldn't have led so strong, though: Light Asylum is by no means a bad record, but unfortunately not all songs here reach those heights. (And one of those that do, the chattering "A Certain Person," is a ringer: it first appeared on their 2010 EP In Tension.) What makes even the less melodically intriguing songs listenable is the incredibly powerful voice of Funchess. Because of her singular look -- she's a powerfully built woman who often sports a flat-top haircut -- and sometimes aggressive vocal style, early reviews always invoked the name of Grace Jones, but that's a reductive comparison: Jones is a technically limited singer who gets by on her undeniable charisma, while Funchess is a far more technically gifted and emotionally varied singer. (Though still with scads of charisma: as Critical Mob reported from SXSW 2012, Funchess absolutely commands the audience from the stage.) The better comparison is Alison Moyet, particularly the two timeless synth-pop records she made as one-half of Yaz with Vince Clarke (Depeche Mode/Erasure) in the early '80s: like Moyet, Funchess can be both a powerhouse belter -- see "ICP," with its fierce "Nobody's innocent!" chorus, and the even more in-your-face snap of "At Will" -- who can also do wonders with more melodic dance-poppy material like "Sins of the Flesh." Light Asylum takes a while to get going -- its second half is considerably stronger than the first -- but once it does, its charms are immediately apparent.
|A Certain Person|