Born from materials that Devin Townsend wrote through the pandemic, Lightwork finds him in a reflective, optimistic temper. Unusually, the one-man prog powerhouse introduced in a co-producer for the album within the type of GGGarth Richardson, whose credit embrace Rage In opposition to The Machine, Melvins and Biffy Clyro. The results of their collaboration isn’t what may be anticipated given Richardson’s in depth background in heavy rock. Lightwork builds on the course Townsend pointed in the direction of on Empath, with much less emphasis on mammoth guitar riffs and venturing into the territory of progressive pop.
Sonically, Townsend maintains his trademark wall of sound, like a proggy model of Phil Spector minus the evil undercurrent. It’s an enormous, deep combine, with devices layered upon one another measured in fathoms, massive, punchy drums, and huge swathes of strings and synthesisers. The opening Moonpeople establishes the vibe, with Townsend relating falsetto along with his vocals, a cheerfully catchy refrain hook, and lyrics that introduce the album’s themes about self-discovery and popping out of the darkness, metaphorically addressing all of the uncertainties of the pandemic.
Lightworker has hints of the musical theatre of Why? from Empath, with a monster refrain and manufacturing expertly designed to bowl the listener over. It feels assured to be an absolute behemoth reside. There are a number of moments when the album brings to thoughts the fashion of Tears For Fears and in tracks like Equinox and Name Of The Void, Townsend even appears like Curt Smith, though some distorted singing serves to underline his metallic roots. If not for the occasional screamed vocals, Equinox might match on The Seeds Of Love, the songwriting is that robust and the manufacturing suitably lavish. Name Of The Void is reassuringly hopeful, Townsend, urging the listener to not freak out: ‘As a result of if you really feel the world’s insane, chill out!’ Trip is a mellow slice of sunshine as Townsend opines about longing to get away from all of it.
Dimensions provides an industrial edge to the album with its NIN-style pulsing synths and machine-like drumbeat and the album closes with the expansive Youngsters Of God, which brings again the prog pop aesthetic. Lightwork could be the closest that Townsend has come to a traditional set of songs, and it’s nearly a shock to listen to the thoughts behind Ziltoid The Omniscient providing the world a musical hug, however being unanticipated doesn’t make it any much less gratifying. The ultimate sound on the album is a lighthouse’s lonesome foghorn, calling the listener dwelling, guiding them out of the darkish and into the sunshine. Wonderful.
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