The “sophomore go-around” from the enigmatic Red Vox is, to put it simply, pure magic. Another Light, the latest album from the Staten Island rockers, traverses many styles, song structures, and lofty emotions, backed by a thrilling pantheon of enigmatic and spacious sound and production over the course of its 13-track, 48 minute and 51 second run. From the very start, lead singer ‘Vin’ and drummer ‘Mike’ intended the band’s second album to be a more experimental voyage, and it shows well. The album oversees a vivid blending of psychedelic and progressive rock vibes into a record that encompasses a large array of different soundscapes, all sharing a very mystic, fantastic, and astronomical atmosphere.
From the moment it starts, the opening title track, the audience is sent directly to a beautifully-crafted world dominated by some well-crafted guitar riffs and texture-populated production. Fittingly, this transportation is justified with its lyrics, which contextualizes the dreamy and hallucinogenic sound of the entire album with a theme of perspective; “The future’s brighter than you’ll ever know / If you ever frame your mind and see it all / In another light”, Vin sings in the song’s opening verse and refrain.
The majority of the album, in many ways, is carried by two particular strengths of the band, the first being Vin’s incredibly talented voice work. His coarse, mostly monotone voice is soothing to the ear and a great accompaniment to the equally as soothing music. Even on moments when Vin breaks the monotone barrier for dramatic effect, it works incredibly well to emphasize the emotionally-driven lyrics of Another Light. This shines the brightest on “Tell Me”, where Vin transforms into a character with Shakespearean-like dramatics to drive home the tragedy painted in the song of the lack of communication between the persona of the song and their significant other. The sheer belligerence of “Reno”, one of the album’s heavier cuts, serves as another example of Vin’s ability to characterize the mood and atmosphere of a track simply through the will of his own voice. The laid-back, drunken persona of the song is acted incredibly well by Vin, successfully painting a silly, yet charming adventure in the far-from modest town of Reno, Nevada.
The second strength of the band that carries Another Light into high levels of quality is the colorful chemistry between the guitar riffs and melodies played by Vin and producer Joe Pecora, and the masterful beats laid down by drummer Mike throughout the musically adventurous album. Very rarely do you hear the guitars and drums dance so beautifully together in rock music, and here is most certainly an entertaining sighting of such an occurrence. This is most noticeable in places such as the twin tracks “I’m So Happy” and “I’m So Sad”, and “Memento Mori”, where the guitar melody and riffs are practically pegged to the drum beat in terms of tone, texture, and even composition. When the beat is low key and slow, the guitar is too. When the beat picks up and starts driving upwards, the guitar transforms into a speaker-surfing riff machine. When the guitar launches into an impressively soaring solo, the drums go absolutely wild. This creates a great resonance that pays off in contributing to the album’s mostly psychedelic feel, allowing the audience to get lost in the inability to distinguish between certain parts of the song. Great music often plays off the idea of creating a singular collective piece, rather than a sharp focus on a particular element, and Another Light is a brilliant example of that.
In contributing to the kaleidoscopic soundscape, the lyrics that decorate Another Light, and form its strict thematic elements, are surprisingly emotional, as aforementioned. Successfully serving as a transportive work, it challenges the audience to see the world in another light, as the title of the album, and its opening track suggest. Throughout the album, Red Vox puts the audience in the shoes of people in a vast array of emotional situations, mostly sharing the idea of the personas talking, or reaching out to, somebody else. While one is free to speculate any of a boundless number of different interpretations to the album’s lyrics, it does suspiciously have the tropes of a cathartic album, evidenced by the repetition of the narrative idea of people reaching out to others. We probably won’t know the band’s true intentions behind the lyrics, since they’ve mostly been zip-lipped about the greater meaning behind their songs. Then again though, speculation is always fun, and Another Light provides a great platform for that type of conversation.
A year ago, I wrote in a review of their previous album, What Could Go Wrong?, that Red Vox had great potential and that their debut was “a great first leap to take, and it’ll be exciting to see in what direction Vinny and Mike will decide to take their next big leap.” Well, their next leap indeed was a gigantic one, pulling a spectacular amount of refined elements to create an experience that can be offered by so very few. It’s a fantastic effort from the band, resulting in an album that will go down on record as a beautiful adventure to take as frequently as possible, with the assistance of a handy replay button!
Image credits – Artwork for ‘Another Light’ and ‘Reno’ all rights reserved by Red Vox.