Love Spirals Downwards
Back when I was in college, I used to listen to my fair share of what would probably be considered gothic music. I got into Love Is Colder Than Death and lots of the artists on the Projekt label as well as some more fringe artists like This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance. I was more into the ethereal gothic side of it and especially dark stuff with more of an ambient edge and wispy female vocals. Love Spirals Downwards was one of the groups that I was into as well, but after awhile I found myself sort of growing away from the genre as a whole. It seemed to me that nobody was really doing anything different with their sound and eventually I found what I was looking for elsewhere.
With Flux, however, I think that Love Spirals Downwards sort of upped the ante a bit in their genre. Although they kept the completely dreamy and ethereal vocals and many of the other elements that they had in the past, they updated their sound with electronic flourishes and mild drum and bass beats. Sure, it's not a complete revolution in sound, but they have gone in a new direction and it's one that does wonders for the group.
The groups new sound comes into play on the very first track on the release entitled "City Moon" and it sounds kind of like a mild jungle remix of the Cocteau Twins. With chiming guitars, lovely female vocals, and a slight pitter-patter of electronic beats in the background, it's nearly a perfect marriage of sounds. "Sound Of Waves" takes sort of the same route, but mixes up the light vocals with some fairly standard beats and a super deep low end rumble that echoes a bit of dub influence. "Nova" takes off with a little bit speedier and harder beat, but even it doesn't reach an intrusive level in terms of overwhelming the floaty qualities of the vocals and other instrumentation. Even with this harder beat, though, the album never really reaches anything that could be regarded as abrasive or even the slightest bit harsh. It's all soft ebbs and flows of vocals and light guitars, and the beats have just enough punch to make sure that the album doesn't get lost in complete fairy dust.
If you like groups like Perfume Tree (particularly Feeler), post-Beat Bowery Electric, or ethereal gothic music in general (and long for some new sounds), this is exactly the album for you. One of my only major qualms with the album is that the lyrics are a bit sappy and overdramatic (but if you've listened to much gothic music, it's not a big deal). Overall, though, the album flows very well (although a couple of the songs sound kind of similar, but it's their first album in this style, so I'm willing to let it slide a bit), and closes out with a super-solid track in the somewhat droning "Sunset Bell." The group has managed to make an album that's a dark, dreamy, and sexy at the same time.