Album Review: Hermitude – Dark Night Sweet Light
Hermitude albums often carry a seasonal feel to them. 2008’s Threads was bathed in the hazy, slowly-growing sunlight of spring and 2012’s all-conquering Hyperparadise was made for those long, hot summer nights and the craziness of festival season.
Dark Night Sweet Light finds Hermitude shifting seasonal gears once more. This is an album destined to soundtrack the crisp mornings and frosted nights of autumn.
Opener Hijinx kicks in with the type of noise we have come to know and love from the Blue Mountains duo; all chopped, pitched-up vocals, scattering drums and bass drops low enough to rattle car doors. It’s a powerful opening statement, but mercifully, it’s as close as this record comes to feeling like Hyperparadise MkII.
Luke Dubber (aka Luke Dubs) and Angus Stuart (aka El Gusto) of Hermitude have spoken openly about the difficulty in recording lead single Searchlight. There were contractual and legal issues surrounding the track’s original vocalist and subsequent lyrics. The song was reportedly only salvaged after Melbourne musician Yeo stepped forward and provided fresh lyrics and ideas for the track. Searchlight’s vaguely positive message combined with the sheer level of fun in the blasts, bleeps and beats behind it suggest the track bound to be a hit of Flume proportions – possibly on both sides of the commercial divide – but it’s certainly not the strongest single from the album (and the need for a lacklustre Searchlight Reprise to conclude the album is debatable).
New Zealand artist Young Tapz provides his confident vocal colour to one the album’s other singles Through the Roof; an interesting mix of Latin brass, Hip Hop swagger and squelching electronics. Think Tijuana Cartel, TV on the Radio and Diplo getting together for a jam. Through the Roof shows Hermitude’s strengths still lay in their ability to fuse together well-established sounds, yet still come out with something sounding fresh and vital.
A change of pace is always eagerly anticipated on a Hermitude record. They have shown themselves to be masters of both the Saturday night banger and the Sunday morning slow-jam. Many of Dark Night Sweet Light’s finest moments come during these slower, densely-woven pieces. Ukiyo and Shift serve up some ambient autumnal goodness, with the former destined to appear on any number of chill-out compilations in the coming months.
They have shown themselves to be masters of both the Saturday night banger and the Sunday morning slow-jam.
Clean and clear lead vocals haven’t exactly been a trademark of recent Hermitude work, which only serves to make Chloe Kaul’s gorgeous vocal effort on Hazy Love all the more impressive. Set against a backdrop of heavily sedated drum and bass-style beats and minimal synth splashes, Hazy Love unfurls slowly and seductively, offering a glimpse into the beautiful, blurry world of two lovers finally snatching some alone time. The boys would be wise to keep Chloe in mind for the next record.
Dark Night leaves the charge to victory a little late, but it’s worth hanging around for. The triple-threat of The Buzz, Metropolis and Midnight Terrain is worth the price of admission alone, with Midnight Terrain securing my vote for best track.
Dark Night Sweet Light has all the elements people have come to expect and love about a Hermitude album, along with a few surprises.
Frustratingly, though, the album lacks that last killer tune to seal the deal. Clocking in at less than 34 minutes and with two versions of Searchlight vying for the listener’s attention, the record sometimes feels like one last, rather frantic grope at summer.