Figure-Ground have their heart in the right place on Out of the Shadows, their second full-length. Released in conjunction with World Mental Health Day, with all proceeds going to projects that assist people with mental health needs, one can only wish them success in that respect. As an artistic statement, though, Out of the Shadows unfortunately leaves something to be desired.
The album is conceptual in nature, with each track bearing the name of a negative emotion that might afflict an individual. And so we work our way through "Loathing," "Trepidation" and "Bitterness," filtered through the duo's stylistic blend of lite industrial and '90s electronica textures, although you could mix and match these tracks with their titles without any damage done to the concept's integrity.
Mental health issues are boiled down to various forms of anxiety and depression here. Second track "Fiero" provides a brief glimpse into the potential beauty of melancholy, but its poignancy is never returned to, with Figure-Ground instead using their (wholly competent) production skills to explore infinite gradations of gray sadness, which is about as appealing as it sounds.
There are certainly moments here and there when elements combine to create some cool rhythmic effects, and there are some neat production flourishes every now and then, but it's not enough to distinguish the album. This is inoffensive, but fairly forgettable stuff.
That said, Out of the Shadows is a commendable effort from a fundraising perspective, and it may well prove therapeutic to some; divested of this extra-musical context however, it makes a fairly minor impression. (Shadow Story)