Published Oct 17, 2018Knowing Beacon was recorded in a series of basements, apartments and, most importantly, the attic of a supposedly haunted carriage house in Pittsburgh, is perhaps the best explanation for the band's turn in sound. For ten years, Superhuman Happiness — led by Arcade Fire saxophonist Stuart Bogie — have developed a reputation for dance music, and while those driving rhythms are still apparent, if subtle, in nearly every song, there is a noticeably darker, more ominous and even apocalyptic atmosphere.
While the themes of sacrifice and isolation dominate the album, that's not to say it's all doomed journeys and impenetrable darkness; the threads of rebirth and redemption, though more understated, and perhaps more difficult to immediately pluck out from the moody instrumentals and vocalizations by Dia Luna, are always present.
While the band's new sound is confident, the songwriting is not quite so convincing. Superhuman Happiness are toying with rebirth, but largely stick by borderline cliché images: "Alpha Omega, different name" in "Bury Me (By Where My Baby Walks)" and "I am the darkness and the light" in "Release Identity." These lyrics are by no means bad; they're just not as striking or memorable as they could have been, especially on two of the album's best tracks, along with "Quiet Streets."
The most impressive part of Beacon is just how successful Superhuman Happiness are with transforming their sound into something still recognizable, but with a totally different vibe and effect. (Yeggs)