It’s been quite a long time since Lydia released their first album “This December, It’s One More And I’m Free.” Ten years to be exact; ten long years of musical transition and development. I’ve heard these guys since the beginning, noting the amazing vocal performances, indie-tastic rhythms, and passionate yet simple solos. Their second album “Illuminate” I believe was their apex, a perfect combination of everything previously stated. That album was 7 years ago. Now with their fifth album (released last Friday), Lydia has continued to explore their sound in “Run Wild.”
It’d be too easy to call Lydia an indie rock band, considering the experimental and pop influences they’ve relied on over the years. Having heavily relied on a darker, somber sound in their first few albums, Leighton Antelman and company have shifted gears and focused their energy in a more positive, summery way with their previous album “Devil.” The album was much more upbeat than anything they’d ever released. In between “Devil” and “Run Wild,” Antelman released his own album under his project The Cinema, being heavily pop-influenced. With that in mind, I believe “Run Wild” is the perfect mix between both styles, one overly poppy, the other exceedingly upbeat. I’ve been calling it “The Lyd-ema” since my first listen.
Normally I wait until the end to relay my concerns and complaints, but I feel it’s more fitting to start with them. As listenable as “Run Wild” is, I have to admit that Lydia’s sound has evolved to its furthest point from their masterpiece “Illuminate.” It’s really hard to distinguish even the smallest sentiments of their older albums now. Even their previous album “Devil” had “Take Your Time” and “From A Tire Swing,” two of its heaviest songs. That was the Lydia that I fell in love with, so it pains me to feel a lack of connection with this album. Besides the changes, I can’t help but feeling every song on “Run Wild” sounds exactly like the next. Most songs have synth-driven choruses, similar vocal ranges, and 4/4 drum beats. The topics sung on this album overlap with many themes from lyrics of prior albums, mainly lost love and other relatable life experiences.
With that out of the way, I still enjoyed aspects of “Run Wild.” I feel much of the successful moments on this album followed the same pattern as “Devil” did: poppy verses, catchy lyrics, and amazing vocal deliveries. I enjoyed the faded-in drum section on “Coffee Drips,” along with the low-fi vocal performance on “Paper Love.” The fact that Lydia used two different producers on this album also shows Lydia’s dedication towards a high-quality product. The lyrics are passionately felt by the listener, even if the subject material is the same as most of their prior songs.
The album’s best songs are easily “Past Life,” “Riverman,” and “Georgia.” Being their first single, I particularly enjoyed the symphonic inclusion to “Past Life.” It was the most distinctive track off “Run Wild,” and also contained some of the hardest bass lines in the entire album. “Riverman” on the other hand is absolutely lighthearted, containing a bluesy acoustic rhythm section. Album closer “Georgia” relies more on that Cinema-sounding synthesizers, but those over-dubbed “yeah-yeah’s” and movie-excerpt in the bridge section bring this song to another level.
Considering the positives and the negatives, I would recommend Lydia’s “Run Wild” to those looking for newer indie music like Copeland, City and Colour, Dream The Electric Sleep, and Death Cab for Cutie, but not necessarily those who are fans of their classics. It took a while for their previous album “Devil” to grow on me, and I feel it’s going to take longer for this album. You can support Lydia by following them on their Facebook and Twitter pages. They are currently touring in North America in support of this album, so I would definitely suggest seeing them if they hit a town near you. Their concerts are always fun and friendly, having a great vibe and crowd interaction. Maybe they’ll even play an older song or two.