Mothlite's Daniel O'Sullivan has spent his time away from his personal project collaborating with some of the world's most well known post-progressive acts. Ulver, Æthenor, Guapo and Grumbling Fur are but a few of the groups O'Sullivan has somehow found time to participate in but Mothlite is his completely and as such the second record from this project, Dark Age, is a journey of sweeping sadness and is imbued with a tender touch of familiarity. O'Sullivan's bandmates add to the grandiose electrobeat pop with flourishes of disarming melody and Dark Age soars and falls with a majestic and blossoming wonder.
Dark Age is a slow-burning album that takes time to build yet it draws you in with harmonies that call to mind latter day Ulver (not surprising given O'Sullivan's input into the Norwegian's sound). First track "Wounded Lions" creeps into your soul with a stealthy atmosphere and a vocal line that cuts deeply with an emotional outpouring that borders on grief. "Disappear" swirls with colluding drum beats and synthesised columns of sound that tangle together to create a summery breeze whilst O'Sullivan's vocal trips over the top and brings the song to life. Mothlite are masters at combining sounds and styles and Dark Age treads the boards of 80s electro-pop, industrial drumming and darkly tinged songs of loss. Think Hurts for possible comparison in modern terms, or Talk Talk for a throwback especially during the huge moving waves of "Something in the Sky."
A few missteps happen along the way and it's unfortunate that they do as for the most part Dark Age is a wonderfully accomplished sophomore record. "Seeing in the Dark" is a slightly boring track that never really makes it to the heights of surrounding songs and "Dreamsinter Nightspore" manages to do precisely nothing for its running time. Mothlite are adept at summoning memorable hooks and weaving magic into minimal lines but these two don't quite hit where they should. A shame, but nothing the majestic "Milk" or the bittersweet title track can't erase from the memory.
Dark Age is certainly a record to get lost in and if you're pining after something new from the Ulver crew, you'd be remiss to overlook this.
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