Lydia’s ‘Illuminate’ possesses the kind of beauty that stops you dead in your tracks. From the moment that Leighton Antelman and Mindy White’s voices combine on opening line “baby just ask once more”, I’m captivated and the record doesn’t let me go until the closing notes of the final song ring out.
There aren’t many better openers to an album than ‘This Is Twice Now’ and as Mike’s cover demonstrates, the merging together of piano, soulful guitars and hyper-emotional vocals creates a soothing warmth that snuggles you tight. Antelman’s unique vocal tone is folky and distinctive and with each subtle inflection he adds, a new hair stands up on end and another goose-bump gets added to the ever-growing collection.
There are several decent indie-pop records that have the same ingredients as this one: soulful vocals, soothing guitar chords and beautiful harmonies, but there aren’t many that do it this well. It’s rare you hear two vocalists that harmonise so perfectly together and if you do, it’s common for the vocals to try and take centre stage and dominate. White’s contribution to this record can’t be overlooked, both for her superb voice and piano skills, but also for the subtle way that she integrates her voice: so unimposing, yet so integral at the same time. It’s an intoxicating effect that lifts songs like ‘Hopsital’ and ‘Sleep Well’ to realms they’d otherwise be unable to reach.
The cost of such a fantastic record though is the weight of expectation and despite releasing several records since ‘Illuminate’ in 2008, Lydia never came close to this level of perfection again. This record was the only collaboration between White and Antelman and having been so important on this record, White’s absence is noted on future material as a key part of the chemistry has long since been lacking.
To put this in perspective though, while Lydia might not have been able to top this record, I can’t think of any other indie-pop record that’s gone one better either. If you missed beauty of this album the first time round, give it a go now because ‘Illuminate’ is the type of timeless record whose shine will never fade.
If you missed last week’s edition of Flashback Friday, you can catch up here for The Academy Is…