Whether they meant to or not, Indonesia-via-Malaysian band Lightcraft create the kind of emotive alternative rock seemingly written to soundtrack modern teen movies.Sparkled with hushed vocalizing, hand-on-heart confessionals, and explosive, arena-ready arrangements, practically every song on their sophomore release “Colors of Joy” sounds as if it was written to reach even the furthest seats of a stadium — those slow-motion crowd shots are practically inevitable.
The general nuance is a crowd-pleasing one, with a focus on declarations of romance, relationships, hope and hopelessness. The record recalls big names such as Coldplay, a later-period U2 and once Britpop hopefuls like Starsailor and Elbow, meaning lots of twinkling guitars and a simplistically solid rhythm section. It’s not exactly an acquired taste, and anyone looking for anything particularly soul crushing here will leave feeling more than a little deflated, but it makes it relatively easy to imagine Lightcraft actually tackling stadiums one day.
Opener “If You Don’t Mind” offers exactly that: distorted, delayed guitars clashing with pounding backbeats, legato synthesizer strings and romantic declarations such as “I’ll break your fall/If you don’t mind” and reminiscing of how “all the things that you did made you shine.”
Second track “Amazing Grace” practically follows the same routine with a more straightforward rhythm, before marathoning towards its crescendo-style solo guitar and outro with fist-towards-the-sky conviction.
Elsewhere, “This Plastic Love” is a whisper-quiet ode to what sounds like a long-lost love (“Now stay with me” and “We were meant to be together,” vocalist Imam Mbudz emotes). The sleepy rhythm and echoing guitars suggest American emo band Jimmy Eat World with even grander ambitions. Its close cousin, “Fire With Fire” is the record’s strongest track; building itself on crackling piano and minimalist acoustic guitar work that is slightly reminiscent of Ryan Adams circa “Love Is Hell.” A rarity with its alt-country styling, the record could have used more “Fire With Fire.”
That would not be Lightcraft, of course. And thus “Starlit Eyes” follows with its ecstatic drumming and those emotive lead guitar lines. “Living in Words and Letters” similarly treads with touches of “Joshua Tree” era U2 before exploding with its electro-indie outro.
“Get on Your Way” is another hearts-on-fire thumper; sounding conspicuously like Irish band JJ72’s “October Swimmer” and creaking with indie boy sensitivity. “Hello Goodbye” works into it a screaming guitar crescendo reminiscent of UK band My Vitriol’s less vitriolic moments.
“Colors of Joy” is a commendable attempt at stadium alternative rock that seems to be in vogue these days.
Lightcraft could do with turning their yearning for an audience with a little more dirt into their music — an edge that would inject some oomph or unpredictability into the tracks. It is a promising record enclosed with lush-filled songwriting, and though you’ve probably heard it all before, it’s still worth the trip.
‘Colors of Joy’LightcraftReleased by Lightcraft RecordsAvailable at record stores and demajors.com