Bright Light Social Hour
Space Is Still the Place (Frenchkiss)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., April 3, 2015
Bright Light Social HourSpace Is Still the Place (Frenchkiss)
Five long years after the band's eponymous debut rocked hard and free enough to garner its creators Band of the Year honors at the 2010 Austin Music Awards, Bright Light Social Hour returns with something else altogether. Worth the wait? And then some. Pared down to the trio of bassist Jack O'Brien, guitarist Curtis Roush, and drummer Joseph Mirasole, BLSH break orbit on Space Is Still the Place. While rooted in the same Seventies jam rock as Bright Light Social Hour, the local threesome now journeys far beyond the party-down vibe of Foghat to a more serious head trip echoing Pink Floyd and its prog-rock brethren as well as latter-day pioneers including My Morning Jacket. Energized throughout by synthesizers, but powered by Mirasole's inventive beats, Roush's guitar gleam, and harmonies that are the definition of power-pop, Space Is Still the Place can best be appreciated in one 45-minute listen. The unexpected whoosh of opener "Sweet Madelene" blows back hair before settling on the warped blues of "Slipstream." The suite of songs mid-LP, beginning with the refracted "Sea of the Edge" and wrapped by the near breathless beauty of "Infinite Cities," finds the band at its most imaginative. The pulse of closer "Escape Velocity" builds to a bacchanalian end that simultaneously resembles the Bright Light Social Hour of five years ago, while offering a striking vision of what they've become. The professed theme of a future South feels almost complete, never counterfeit: a heady combination of thoughtfulness and concern. An early contender for Austin album of the year.