Lycia Estrella

Estrella — purportedly Lycia’s last finished, proper studio album (recorded in 1996, now being re-released) — brings with it some high expectations particularly to listeners who may have missed them the first time around. And on some levels the band delivers. Lycia create intense, gothic-styled, ethereal melodies in songs that unfold and convey mood and atmosphere very effectively; surprising they also fall into the same clichéd trap shared by many of their musical ilk (perhaps because fans seem to readily accept it) — they treat their vocals no different from other elements of their mix (whether intentional or not). This works well on the songs where the vocals are non-lyrical explorations and in effect are another form of instrumentation. But this becomes horribly frustrating on the cuts where they are not. On songs with actual lyrics, this results in the words becoming lost in the music, leaving the listener to strain and struggle to hear them, in essence pulling them right out of the otherwise intoxicating arrangements. Some tracks on Estrella suffer from this more than others. Thankfully, Lycia write such beautiful songs that even with the apparent technical flaws, they can not be easily dismissed. The synth-laden compositions are full of sad dreaming and something considerably darker — a perfect recipe for the scene they found their home in. It would be interesting to see the result if these tracks could be given the mix treatment again today — almost ten years later. Unfortunately, these previously recorded memories are all we have. (Silber)