Editors' pick

Light Asylum

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Editorial Review

Album review: "Light Asylum"
By Mark Jenkins
Friday, May 4, 2012

Like so many up-and-coming bands, Light Asylum is based in Brooklyn. But the self-titled debut album from this "dark wave" duo could hardly sound more European. Deep-voiced Shannon Funchess, who has sung with Telepathe and TV on the Radio, emulates the mannered delivery of such British goth-punks as Siouxsie Sioux. And composer-programmer Bruno Coviello has studied every noteworthy '80s and '90s U.K. synth act, as well as German and Belgian industrialists of the same era.

"Light Asylum" opens with assaultive electro-beats, one of many metal-toned fusillades. The group's speedy, steely percussion and air-raid-siren riffs suit its confrontational lyrics. "Charge me like a bulldozer," Funchess demands in "Pope Will Roll"; "Nobody's innocent no more," she accuses in "IPC." Delivered in her androgynous alto, the lines seem designed to drive all but the bravest listeners off the dance floor.

Yet intertwined with the throbs and thumps - and the sampled horse's whinny on "A Certain Person" - are unexpectedly catchy keyboard fills. The contrapuntal melodies of such songs as "End of Days" are part Bach, part Vince Clarke (the man behind Erasure, Yaz and early Depeche Mode). "Light Asylum" is heavy on shadows, but these pop touches appealingly brighten the mood.